· I Was Not Impeached - Maduagwu
By Jude Atupulazi
But for the unforeseen happening soon, it looks as if the Anambra State House of Assembly will be led by a new speaker despite the seeming confusion in the leadership of the House. Last Tuesday, November 13, a group of members of the House deposed Mrs Rita Maduagwu, as speaker of the House and nominated Hon Ikem Uzoezie in her stead, writes Jude Atupulazi with additional reports from Ikeugonna Eleke and Abuchi Onwumelu.
Addressing newsmen last Wednesday in Awka, Uzozie, flanked by some of his colleagues, while recalling that he was the first person to nominate the ''deposed speaker'' then, regretted that she failed to justify the confidence reposed in her by her incompetence, a development, he said, which made the members last Tuesday to move against her.
Fides recalls that this would be the fourth time the House would move against Hon Maduagwu. On the last occasion, it was learnt, as many as 27 members had moved against her but owing to the intervention of stakeholders, they let go.
But this time, according to Uzoezie, there would be no going back on their decision. He said that owing to the incompetence of the ''deposed speaker'', no one of the 25 members at the plenary objected to the motion calling for her removal, even after it was read three times; thus they had gone ahead to remove her.
But reacting to her impeachment, the embattled Rita Maduagwu described her purported impeachment as “a bundle of illegality.”
Describing those who allegedly impeached her as desperate individuals Maduagwu said, 'Nobody can impeach me because I have not committed any offence. They didn't have any power known to any law to impeach me.
'They need two-thirds of our members to impeach the speaker or the governor. So, I'm still the speaker. I was not served any notice of impeachment. I was not granted a fair hearing to defend the allegations against me. They did not meet the required 2/3 majority number required to carry out the impeachment. The purported new speaker was not sworn in by the clerk of the House as required by law. Impeachment is not done by Voice Vote as 2/3 requires figures/ numbers.
'It's a failed impeachment attempt, and another frustrating moment for opposition elements. My mandate is divine,' Maduagwu concluded.
Maduagwu, who was flanked by some of her colleagues, was said to have regained access to the chambers after about two hours and held a session.
But Uzoezie maintained that there was no going back on their decision to remove Maduagwu, pointing out that their action was aimed at saving the state legislature and making it competitive to look like a House of Assembly in terms of process and representation.
He accused Maduagwu of reluctance to do bills and motions and said that now they had removed her, the back log of bills and motions would be cleared as that was what they were elected to do.
Uzoezie said insinuations that the house was being sponsored by anti- government elements in the hope of impeaching Governor Willie Obiano were untrue and rather pledged the House's allegiance to the governor who he described as doing well, saying that his group had nothing against the governor and could not target him for impeachment.
He said the house was just tired of what he termed the several sins of Hon Maduagwu and needed to effect a change of leadership, hence her removal.
Uzoezie maintained that due process was rightly observed in the impeachment of the former speaker, and that nothing could change it, even as he said that the Bible was present during the impeachment and that the oath of allegiance was taken, with 25 members of the House being present at the plenary. He said 20 of them signed the impeachment but that the other five concurred.
'We have nothing against the governor, so no one should begin to think that the impeachment of the speaker was done so we can get at the governor. We remain loyal to the governor, and there is nothing to fear about,' he assured.
While briefing newsmen again last Thursday at the House of Assembly, Rt Hon Ikem Uzoezie, said Hon Rita Maduagwu would not be returned as speaker.
Uzoezie who briefed journalists shortly after he and members of the assembly loyal to him gained entrance into the assembly complex, said they just finished their sitting and that legislative business for the day had been concluded.
The new speaker who was surrounded by about 17 members of the House, said the house remained loyal to Governor Willie Obiano, who they adjudged as a performing governor.
A new twist however emerged when the clerk of the house, Mr Pius Udo, emerged to announce that neither the Uzoezie nor the Maduagwu faction was able to sit as they could not meet a compromise.
It was however 0further gathered that the happenings in the assembly were as a result of the primary elections of the All Progressives Grand Alliance which threw up a lot of controversy.
Members of the House loyal to Uzoezie were said to be those who were shortchanged during the primary elections, leading to their being denied tickets to contest for higher positions, an allegation Uzoezie had denied.
Meanwhile, the APGA leadership in the state, last Thursday issued a statement suspending three members of the house.
The statement signed by the state chairman of the party, Hon Norbert Obi, said that the members were suspended for engaging in activities that caused crisis in the assembly.
The suspended members were; Ikem Uzoezie, Hayford Oseke and Victor Okoye.
But reacting to that, Uzoezie described it as a mere speculation as he had yet to receive any letter to that effect.
'I'm not aware of any suspension and I've seen no suspension notice, so for now, I regard it as a mere speculation,' Uzoezie stated.
Fides reports that all the roads leading to the House of Assembly were cordoned off by the police, forcing commuters and motorists to take alternate routes or to go against the One Way.
Meanwhile, Governor Obiano who spoke from Paris in France, where he had accompanied President Muhammadu Buhari on an official visit, had earlier commended the House for staying strong and shunning divisive tendencies.
Obiano who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr James Eze, expressed confidence in the ability of Anambra lawmakers to always resolve their differences in the truest tradition of representative democracy and forge stronger ties that would accelerate the development of the state.
As at last Thursday, the ranks of the Uzoezie group appeared to have swollen as 18 members were seen, while Uzoezie said their total number was 25.