-Insist You Can’t Undertake Role Of Legislature, Judiciary

The decision of the Imo State House of Assembly to summon the Publisher of Nigeria Watchdog Newspaper, Comrade Precious Nwadike and Chairman of the All Progressive Congress APC, in Orlu Local Government Area, Chief Stanley Nwosu (Ochinanwata) in respect of a publication that accused the member representing Orlu State Constituency Hon Martin Ihezuo of diverting 65 bags of rice that meant for his constituents has been strongly condemned by a cross section of Imo people, including “Beyond Platform” a Civil Society Group and Ohaneze Youth Council, who described the summon as an attempt to gap the press and undermine the constitutional role of the press to hold those in authority accountable to the people as stipulated in section 20 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.

Beyond Platform, in a release signed by its Convener, Chibundu Uchegbu, accused members of the Imo House of Assembly of being discriminatory in the exercise of their so-called oversight functions. He wondered why they attached more importance to the accusation leveled against their colleague, Ihezuo, while many Imolites have suffered different kinds of brutalization and dehumanization and they kept mute.

It said, “Civil Society community in the state duly recognizes the powers of the House to invite citizens and conduct investigations as conferred on it in S. 128 of the 1999 Constitution as amended. And notwithstanding the content of the said publication, what is so special in Hon Barr Ikenna Ihezuo over scores of Imo people who are facing abuses, insults, dehumanisation and exploitations on daily basis and the House had not stood for them? Who has made House of Assembly or a member of the House more human than other millions of Imolites? The action of the House by all indication is discriminatory, and we hereby condemn it in strong terms! It’s the virtualization of democracy that every citizen should be given equal treatment and equal opportunity.

Here in the state, innocent citizens have been brutalised and tortured by police, but the House had not summoned the Commissioner of Police over act of brutality and torture Again, there were instances patrol marketers arbitrarily hiked the prices of their products and exploited the people of the state, but the House had not deemed it right to summon the operators. At least for the sake of the helpless citizens, and of course, their constituents! 

The group also urged the legislators to divert their attention away from private individuals along legitimate businesses and beam their searching light on the state government and other state actors who have several questions to answer.

If the House is looking for who to invite or summon in the exercise of its powers conferred on it by the Constitution, let them invite the governor first. For four years, the governor never conducted local government election. Two elections were conducted in 2023 in every nook and cranny of the state. And what were the reasons the local government election was not conducted whereas the state body in charge of the election, ISIEC, severally expressed readiness to conduct it!

The House invited the publisher of Nigerian Watchdog Newspaper based on what was published on 4th June, 2024. On 16th January, 2024, Punch newspaper published names of governors in the country who had wasted taxpayers money on foreign trips. In the case of Imo State governor, Sen. Hope Uzodinma, the paper reported that between 2021 and 2023, the Gov Uzodinma spent N541,23 Million on foreign trips without anything to show for it. This is hard earned resources of Ndi Imo. Was the House not disturbed by the report? Why didn’t they invite the governor to appear before then and explain why Imo money spent on such trips without anything to show for it? What happened to the oversight functions of the legislature?

We therefore advise the Imo State House of Assembly to withdraw that invitation. The issue involved is not important to Imo people whose mandate they have. There are serious issues to focus on. Besides, the case at hand has long been settled by Court of Appeal in a matter between El-Rufai and the House of Representatives in 2003, where the Court made it clear that S. 88 (same with S. 128) does not constitute the House as a universal ombudsman.

We encourage the media to continue to uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people as given to them by the Constitution.

In the same vein, Ohaneze Youth Council, in a statement issued in reaction to the invitation of Watchdog Newspaper by the Imo State House of Assembly, in respect of the publication in the June, 6 edition of the Newspaper, accused the legislator of pursing shadow instead of the substance.

The National President of the apex socio-cultural youth body, Comrade Igboayaka .O. Igboayaka said, “It’s undemocratic to use Honorable State House of Assembly of Imo State as a tool of personal Victimization, and a wheel to threaten freedom of Speech and silent the misrepresentation of the current Imo House of Assembly members”.

It’s illegal and demonstration of political illiteracy and lack of proper political education for Imo state house of assembly to descend so low to bring a whole day just to sit and draft a summon letter to the publisher of WATCH DOG NEWSPAPERS over a publication on the diversion of Palliative made for Ndi-Orlu constituency by the house member, Comrade Igboayaka stated.

Comrade Igboayaka opted that if Mr. Ikenna Ihezuo feels deformation of character, he should approach a court of competent jurisdiction to debate about the Palliative with Chief Stanley Nwosu(Ochinanwata) who alerted Ndi-Orlu concerning their missing palliative.

Mr. Ikenna Ihezuo should with immediate effect stop pursuing shadow and fighting people from Orlu constituency and provide in its totality all the palliatives made for NDI Orlu State constituency.

“The House of assembly members were elected for the oversight functions of legislature, making of laws, they lack the jurisdiction to punish law offenders or law breakers. Obviously, Imo State House members lack the knowledge of principle of Power and seperation of power between Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.

“It’s verily humiliating to Ndi-Imo that Imo State House assembly is now handling Civil cases of brothers quarrelling over distribution of Rice, Tomatoes and Onions and others food items. This is how mediocre were flooded into Imo state house of Assembly on 18th March 2023 during the State House of Assembly Election” Comrade Igboayaka frowned.

It’s therefore necessary for WATCH DOG NEWSPAPERS PUBLISHER to neglect and not attend such summon that lack democratic merit. Imo House of Assembly should earnestly undergo legislative training to understand their oversight functions and stop embarrassing Imolite with letters of summon on civil matters and immediate effect withdraw such letter of mockery to our democracy and face their legislative duty, Comrade Igboayaka O Igboayaka concluded”.