The lawmaker representing Ebonyi North West State Constituency in Ebonyi state House of Assembly, Hon. Victor Aleke has described his “purported indefinite suspension by the House as “illegal and a nullity.”
The Lawmaker in an Exclusive interview with EPARLIAMENT narrated what transpired in what he called a “mock session” of the House where his “indefinite suspension” was hatched by the Speaker, Hon. Ogbonnaya Nwifuru who he accused of “being used” to hound him into submission.”
Hon. Aleke recalled that when the matter to suspend him was raised in the House by the Leader of the House, Hon. Victor Chukwu and was put to vote, 10 members raised their hand in support of the suspension while another ten members also voted against his suspension thereby making it a tie, this according to the lawmaker was despite the fact that some members were harangued and intimidated into not voting, especially those who didn’t see any reason behind the motion that he be suspended.
“They went into the Chamber and did a kind of voting and they had 10 people for and 10 people against, , so it was neither on any side. So he had the option not to suspend me, but he (the Speaker) refused to do the yearning of members, probably to do another count. Because some members were intimidated not to raise their hands and by law there are provisions guiding disciplinary issues,” Aleke explained.
Making further clarifications, Aleke told EPARLIAMENT that everything about his purported suspension reeks of illegality as both the sitting and purported “indefinite suspension” were against the House Rules and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We have our House rules which is in tandem with what obtains even in the National Assembly. Our rule provides that if an honourable member flouts any of our rules, such a member should be suspended for not more than 14days.
“And here the Speaker went into the Chamber and said he was suspending an Honourable member indefinitely!
“Even when I was not even given fair hearing, in fact, I was purportedly suspended in absentia.
“Meanwhile, the sitting was illegal because we had earlier on adjourned after we had had a valedictory session in honour of a deceased former member.
“So it is an illegal suspension.
Hon. Aleke stated that as a democrat he was not going to resort to self help, but will approach the court for relief. According to him, “we have to look at this from the point of law, let the law take its cause because there is no way you can say you are suspending and honourable member validly elected by the people indefinitely.”
The Allegation against Hon. Victor Aleke
The lawmaker who expressed surprise at the treatment meted to him by his colleagues, especially the Speaker stated that the “misconduct” he was accused of haven committed was non-existent and based on falsehood as he was not investigated or convicted of any misconduct either by the House or any court to have warranted the “purported indefinite suspension.”
“There was an allegation that I connived with a local government Chairman, but the irony is that I am a member of the said Committee and the Chairman of the Committee have not even written the report of the Committee, so on what basis can you suspend me when there is even no evidence that I committed the infraction I am being accused of?
“As a committee we met with the Chairman of Ohaukwu local government, Barr. Clement Odaa and our Committee found out that he was owing the government six million naira and according to the Chairman, he had earlier made a part payment of one million five hundred naira that morning and promised to pay the balance in due course. So what is the connival?(sic), Do I work with the local government? Or did the local government Chairman said anywhere that he gave me some money?
“I know that there is not place in the Nigeria constitution or the House Rule that bars an honourable member from having friends from other arms of the government.
“My Life in Serious Danger”
The lawmaker told EPARLIAMENT that he was no longer comfortable moving about his normal activities within the state as he has continued to receive death threats through phone calls since the day the Speaker announced that he had been suspended indefinitely.
“The Public should know that my life is being threatened.
“I have received several threat calls which clearly indicate that my life is in serious danger,” he said.
Genesis of the Problem
EPARLIAMENT investigations revealed that the troubles of the embattled lawmaker may not be unconnected with the events leading to the build up to the defection of the Governor of Ebonyi state, Chief David Umahi from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressive Congress (APC).
EPARLIAMENT reported that the Speaker of Ebonyi state House of Assembly was the ring leader in the push to ensure that the members of Ebonyi state House of Assembly defected en-mass with the governor.
However, it was revealed that Hon. Victor Aleke was one of the six members of the House that stated that they were not going to defect to the APC citing the fact that the PDP had been their party since 1999 when Nigeria returned to democratic rule. While some other members who had earlier expressed their willingness to stay back in the PDP were later “convinced” into joining the governor in the defection venture, Aleke stuck to his gun stating that “irrespective of the pressure, I remain a PDP man.” “I am not moving an inch out of PDP,” Aleke was quoted to have told anyone that cared to listen.
The Defection of Governor Umahi has largely divided the political class in the state with all the three Senators and five members of the House of Representatives in a press Conference in Abuja on November 18, 2020 categorically stating that “we remain proud card-carrying members of the PDP.” The lawmakers and their supporters have not hidden their willingness to remain in the PDP irrespective of the consequences. Governor Umahi has already started what sources at the Ebonyi Government House told EPARLIAMENT was a “cleansing” whereby all political appointees in Umahi’s government who are deemed to be loyal to any of the National Assembly member from the state who refused to defect to the governor are automatically relieved of their appointments. The governor on Friday announced the mass sack of all his appointees from Ohaukwu Local Government Area, the local government of Senator Sam Egwu who spoke on behalf of his colleagues in the National Assembly.