Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Confusion has engulfed Abia State over the purported impeachment of the Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Chinedum Orji, even as his former aide has dismissed the action as null and void.
Some lawmakers from across party lines, had on Tuesday, gathered at a yet-to-be- verified location in Umuahia, and passed a motion for his impeachment.
Deputy Speaker, Hon. Ifeanyi Uchendu, presided over the session while the motion for the removal of the former Speaker was moved by Hon, Kennedy Njoku representing Osisioma Ngwa North state constituency.
According to a viral video of the purported impeachment, the lawmakers accused the former Speaker of being insensitive over the welfare of the members of the House.
This, according to them, amounted to gross misconduct.
The motion for his impeachment was seconded by Chijioke Chukwu representing Bende North State constituency.
When the presiding officer divided the House to know if the members supported the motion for Orji’s impeachment, there was a unanimous echo of “yee,” without any dissenting voice.
After the former Speaker was impeached, the member representing Obingwa West state constituency, Thomas Nkopro, nominated Hon Chukwudi Apugo representing Umuahia East state constituency as the new Speaker.
His nomination was seconded by Hon. Okey Igwe representing Umunneochi state constituency who was the deputy governorship candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the March 18 governorship poll.
The lawmakers subsequently elected Apugo, an Ibeku kinsman of the ousted Speaker. He was immediately sworn in as Speaker.
Meanwhile, some of the signatories who signed for Orji’s impeachment, according to Hon. Njoku who moved the motion, were: Ifeanyi Uchendu, Ohafia South; Kennedy Njoku, Osisioma Ngwa North; Chukwudi Apugo, Umuahia East; Chijioke Chukwu, Bende North; and Emeka Okorafor, Isuikwuato.
Others were: Munachim Alozie, Ugwunagbo; Aron Uzodike, Aba North; Thomas Nkopro, Obingwa West; Godwin Adiele, Ukwa West; and Mike Ukoha, Arochukwu.
Among the signatories according to him, were Speaker of the 6th Assembly, Chikwendu Kanu, Isiala Ngwa South; Okey Igwe, Umunneochi; Nnamdi Allen, Osisioma Ngwa South; Stanley Nwabuisi, Ikwuano; Paul Taribo, Ukwa East; and Hon. Obinna Ichita, Aba South.
However, efforts to verify from some of the lawmakers did not succeed as they did not pick calls put across to them by our Correspondent.
But Hon. Igwe told our Correspondent that he would not say anything outside the message contained in the viral video which he said “speaks for itself.”
When contacted, the new Speaker said he would address the press later on the matter.
Attempts to reach the former Speaker did not succeed as calls put across to him were not going through.
His Chief Press Secretary, Mr Jude Ndukwe, was also not reachable as calls put to his phone could not click.
But when contacted, Orji’s former Media Adviser, and the immediate-Deputy Chairman of Bende LGA, Paul Uzoma Okoro (PUO), dismissed the purported impeachment as a huge joke and of no moment.
He said the Speaker could not have been impeached in a hotel apartment instead of the hallowed chamber of the House.
According to him, the said impeachment cannot stand, adding that all those behind the attempt will soon be rounded up by security agencies for trying to plunge the state into crisis.
He said their attempt to remove the Speaker only amounted to efforts in futility, insisting that Orji still remains the Speaker.
“There was an attempt to impeach the Speaker at Emeka Omeruo House (Government Guest House). This cannot stand. It’s just an effort in futility.”
The State Government has kept sealed lips over the development.
Efforts to reach the Commissioner for Information, Eze Chikamnayo, were not fruitful as his phone was switched off.