-We have no such power to withhold their salary-Duru
There are feelers that fresh crisis is presently looming at the Imo State House of Assembly following refusal of the leadership of the house to pay the six suspended colleagues their salaries, in a bid to further frustrate and compel them to defect to the All Progressive Congress, APC.
It was gathered that the Speaker, Mr Paul Emeziem, allegedly acting the script of the executive and in a bid to bring the suspended lawmakers to their knees, directed that their salaries be withheld till further notice. This is gradually heating up the polity as some of the legislators who spoke to this reporter said, “there was no justification whatsoever for their controversial suspension in the first place, what more for withholding their salaries.
One of the lawmakers who commented on the development said, “all these arm-twisting antics, harassment and intimidation are aimed at castrating, weakening and pocketing the Imo house of assembly to enable the executive push all kinds of bills without inputs from lawmakers.
This is unacceptable, as no amount of undue pressure, or intimidation will make them abandon their duties and responsibilities to their constituents and entire Imo people. Besides, the Speaker lacks the power to push them around as if they are employees or appointees of the state government.
It would be recalled that, prior to these developments, PDP “lawmakers in the House had alleged that the Paul Emeziem-led leadership of the House had been shortchanging them to the tune of N1.5m monthly for refusing overtures to defect to the APC. Now that they have suspended us unjustly, they are still bent on appropriating our allowances, just to enrich themselves.”
One of the lawmakers who expressed disappointment at the attitude of the Paul Emeziem leadership of the house,saying that Imo Assembly has been enmeshed in one negative controversy or the other since inception and requested that the Clerk of the Assembly should be interrogated for refusing to pay the suspended legislators their statutory entitlements, because there is no basis for that.
When contacted, the Clerk of the House, Barr Chinelo Emeghara, referred our reporter to the House committee Chairman on Information, Hon Johnson Duru of Ideato South state constituency for clarification.
When also contacted, Hon Johnson Duru said, “the suspended legislators have been paid their salaries up to date, stressing that, “the leadership of the house does not have the power to stop their salaries. What they are actually being owed is their allowances which they are not entitled to for as long as they are on suspension.”