Ebonyi State House of Assembly.
Two deputy speakers emerge in Ebonyi Assembly
By Nweze Anaga, Abakaliki
The crisis rocking the Ebonyi State Assembly over the purpoted “resignation” of the deputy speaker of the assembly and his denial on Tuesday February 22, 2022 took a different dimension, as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has kicked against the action of the lawmakers’ leadership, which resulted in the emergence of two deputy speakers for the assembly.
On Tuesday, the state PDP threatened to challenge the action in court, describing it as an attempt to truncate democracy and rule of law.
The PDP Chairman, Ebonyi State, Hon. Tochukwu Okorie, while briefing journalists immediately after their stakeholders meeting in Abakaliki, stated that the purported removal of the deputy speaker of Ebonyi State House of Assembly is an attempt to truncate democracy and rule of law in Ebonyi State, warning that they cannever allow impunity to takeover the parliament, stating that the Deputy Speaker did not commit any offence to warrant such treatment but only reaffirmed his membership of the PDP.
He therefore threatened to challenge the action of the House in court of competent jurisdiction.
“The PDP Ebonyi State chaptre has now been vindicated by this show of shame and total desecration of Democracy and Rule of law by few lawmakers who at the barking of governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, yesterday made an attempt at truncating Democracy and Rule of law in the state.
“Consequently, the purported removal of the Deputy Speaker of Ebonyi State House of Assembly, Hon. Odefa Obasi Odefa and subsequent declaration of his seat vacant is not just an afront to constitutionalism but an insult to the collective sensibility and memories of the people of Ebonyi State and Nigeria at large.
“This abbaration has failed and shall not stand. And we are assuring the good people of Ebonyi State and indeed all Nigerians that the PDP shall remain firm and resolute on the side of the law and will exploit all legal avenues to restore the confidence of the electorate in the state parliament.
“As can be confirmed by the expanded committee meeting today, and their presence in this press briefing, the forged letters led by 14 members of the House of Assembly that Hon. Oliver Oseh and Ngozi Ezilo has defected to APC is also another sad case of bracing forgery and defamation for which the individual lawmakers have already resolved to seek redress in appropriate courts of law.
Also, the member representing Ivo constituency, Hon. Oliver Oseh, debunked issuing any letter indicating his defection to APC, stating that he is a bonafide PDP member and never defected to APC as was alleged.
This followed the declaration of the deputy speaker’s office vacant by the Speaker, Ogbonna Nwifuru, after reading “his resignation letter” to the Ebonyi State House of Assembly.
He stated that the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Odefa Obasi Odefa, purportedly resigned from
his position as a member of Ebonyi State House of Assembly to enable him move on with other future engagements.
The speaker stated: “Distinguished colleagues, another announcement. This is the letter addressed to the speaker of Ebonyi State House of Assembly titled, ‘Office of the Deputy Speaker, Ebonyi State House of Assembly.’
The letter reads in parts: “Address to the speaker, Ebonyi State House of Assembly, Nkaliki road, office of the Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Odefa Obasi Odefa. Mr. Speaker, Ebonyi State House of Assembly, Nkaliki road, sir. Letter of resignation as a member of Ebonyi State House of Assembly.
“I, Hon. Obasi Odefa Obasi Odefa, respresenting Onicha East Constituency, do hereby resign my seat in Ebonyi State House of Assembly on this day 15th November 2021. I did this in good faith after due consultation with my family, selected stakeholders and my political associates. This will give me ample time to pursue other engagements.
“Mr. Speaker, sir. I wish to use this medium to thank you immensely for your kindness to me throughout my staying in this house. I cease today, 15th day of November, 2021 to be a member of this house. Thank you and God bless you very sincerely.”
This resulted in the lawmakers through a motion moved by the member representing Ohaozara West Constituency, Hon. Onu Nwonye and seconded Hon. Anthony Nwegede, member representing Izzi East quick normination of member respresenting Afikpo North West Constituency, Hon. Kingsley Ogbonna Ikoro, as the new Deputy Speaker and was sworn-in immediately by the speaker of the House, Francis Ogbonna Nwifuru, to replace the former Deputy Speaker, Odefa Obasi Odefa.
Hon. Onu Nwonye was norminated to occupy the position of deputy leader of the House of Assembly which was formerly occupied by Kingsley Ikoro, the new Deputy Speaker.
The speaker further announced the defection letter from PDP to APC purportedly written by Hon. Oliver Iseh, member representing Ivo constituency and Hon. Ngozi Ezilo, member representing Afikpo North East Constituency.
Meanwhile, the embattled Deputy Speaker, Hon. Odefa Obasi Odefa, has refuted the purported resignation letter, describing it as fake and never emanated from him.
He told Nigeria News Flight that his position as the deputy speaker remains valid, stressing that he never resigned. He further said that the declaration of his position vacant was unconstitutional.
`”My name is Odefa Obasi Odefa, the Deputy Speaker of Ebonyi State House of Assembly, ordinarily this state would have been peaceful, or should I say is a peace of the grave yard. It appears that the desperate ambition of some few individuals is more paramount than the interest of the public. This madness for power must have a limit.
“First, I have never in my life resigned as a member of Ebonyi State House of Assembly and never authored any document to that effect. And I challenge them to come up with any document supposedly signed by me. Why will I resign from Ebonyi State House of Assembly; are they the people that sent me to House of Assembly?
“If the people of Oshiri, Ukawu and Abaomege that I am representing asked me to leave, I will leave through recall. What they did is a child’s play. In any case saying that I joined APC; I have never in my life registered in any other political party except PDP.
“I did not go to any place they are doing function and I have not participated in their congress neither in the ward nor in local government nor in the state. I will not also participate in any other function purported to be APC.”
Recall that the Deputy Speaker of Ebonyi State House of Assembly, Hon. Odefa Obasi Odefa, had said that he would remain in Peoples Democratic Party in spite of ‘intimidation’ and ‘harassment’ to join the All Progressives Congress.
The lawmaker stated this during a press briefing in Abakaliki, the state capital, on Saturday, adding that it would be an act of ingratitude to leave the PDP, which made him what he is currently.
According to Odefa, “You may recall that for over one year now when the Executive Governor of our dear state, Chief David Nweze Umahi, defected from the PDP to APC there had been speculations around where some of us belong to, political party-wise.
“The constitution also spells out in clear terms the conditions that could engender defection from the political party on whose platform one is elected to another political party.
“Also, it is well established legislative tradition and convention that a lawmaker who wishes to defect from his political party to another political party is required to formally write to the Speaker of the House informing him or her and other lawmakers in plenary of such decision.
Till his resignation from Ebonyi State House of Assembly and subsequent declaring his seat vacant, Hon.Odefa Obasi Odefa is the member representing Onicha East constituency in Ebonyi State House of Assembly.