Tongues are presently wagging about how the Hon Paul Emeziem-led Imo state house of assembly approved another N18b loan for Governor Hope Uzodinma, barely few months after the lawmakers approved N8b loan which has neither been accounted for nor it’s impact felt in terms of infrastrural or socio-economic development of the state.
It was also alleged that the questionable loan was approved by eight lawmakers including two PDP legislators, namely Hon Solomon Anukam and Hon Okey Nwakanma representing Owerri Municipal and Mbatoli state constituencies respectively.
A source who does not want his name in print told this reporter that, “it was the former Deputy Speaker, Nwakanma who got wind of the said meeting and co-opted his colleague, Anukam, hence both of them agreed to play along with the Speaker’s group.
It was gathered that the house sat on Wednesday October 20, 2021 with only four members present. The speaker, Mr Emeziem was said to have adjourned sitting to October, 28 for lack of quorum. But surprisingly, the house reconvened on Thursday, October, 21, outside the house of assembly chambers and approved the loan with only 8 members of the house present, without following due process.Grapevine reports allege that the lawmakers who participated and voted in favour of the loan were given undisclosed huge sums of money each for the hatched job which they are now trying desperately justify.
A legal luminary who doesn’t want his name in print faulted the decision of the house to approve the said loan which majority of Imo people see as an unpleasant surprise.
He maintained that, “the approval of the loan doesn’t hold water as long as it was not deliberated on at plenary and the required number of legislators stipulated by law present. Unfortunately, Imo people don’t ask probing questions, if not, the clandestine, unlawful and questionable action of the legislators, would be challenged in court rather than being trivialized or discussed on social media.
The renowned lawyer also stated that “the argument by the lawmakers that with the suspension of 6 of their colleagues for what they referred to as anti-parliamentary conduct, the presence of 8 of them constitutes a quorum is not only laughable but neither here nor there.”
“The suspended lawmakers represent their respective constituencies who are entitled to make input in matters of such magnitude that will affect their constituents directly and indirectly. The fact that they are on suspension does not mean that their constituents whose mandate they have should be denied opportunity to contribute or have a say in a matter that will not only affect them but the future of their children”.
When contacted, the Speaker, Hon Paul Emeziem didn’t respond to calls, while Hon Okey Nwakanma, representing Mbatoli state constituency stated that he was not at the meeting. When also contacted, the PDP lawmaker representing Oguta state constituency, Hon Frank Ugboma said he has been away from the state for some time and would comment when he comes back and avails himself of facts.
Meanwhile, a group known as Imo Transparency Agenda has called for the impeachment of the Speaker, Hon Emeziem, for violating House Rules and destroying the legislative arm of government which he has made an extension and appendage of the executive.
According to the group’s spokesperson, Chijioke Madu, “Hon Paul Emeziem should have known that the approval of the loan is against the overall interest of Imolites as previous loans obtained by the government have not been accounted for. The accumulation of these questionable loans and accruing interests will have dire consequences that will be synonymous with mortgaging the future of the state and by implication generations unborn who will suffer the pain and deprivation that will arise from debt servicing.”
Effort to reach Hon Solomon Anokam who was said to be present at the meeting proved abortive as he neither responded to calls nor text messages sent to his phone.