Ebonyi lawmakers defy Umahi, threaten arrest of commissioners

Governor Dave Umahi
Governor Dave Umahi

The Ebonyi State House of Assembly on Tuesday threatened to issue warrant of arrest on three commissioners of the state who failed to appear before the lawmakers.

The lawmakers’ resolve was against the state governor, Dave Umahi’s stance against issuing the summons.

The house had last Thursday summoned three commissioners to appear before it over the state government’s controversial tax policy.

The affected commissioners are Moses Ogodo-Ali (Environment), Elizabeth Ogbaga (Commerce and Industry) and Dennis Ekumankama (Finance).

But Mr. Umahi said at a press conference on Tuesday that the three commissioners would not appear before the house as the House of Assembly did not write to him.

He explained that since the affected commissioners were working for him, the issue should have been written to him first.

But during Tuesday’s plenary, Chris Usulor, member representing Ezza South Constituency reminded the House of Assembly about the commissioner’s refusal to appear before them.

Contributing, the Deputy Speaker, Odefa Odefa, expressed dismay at the attitude of the commissioners, saying the house would take relevant actions if they failed to honour the invitation.

“This house should not be taken for granted by anybody. If they fail to adhere to our summons, this house knows what to do.
“The teeth which the dog uses to play with its master can also be used to bite. He who has ears let him hear,” Mr. Odefa cautioned the affected commissioners.

The speaker, Francis Nwifuru, ordered in his ruling that the matter be deferred to the next adjourned date as it was not on the order paper.

He noted that the commissioners must appear before the House of Assembly at that next adjourned date or the house would issue a warrant of arrest on them.

The house also threatened to reduce the salaries of all commissioners and other principal officers of in the state.

Deliberating on a letter sent to the house by Mr. Umahi, asking the lawmakers to approve salaries for some officers of the government, Mr. Odefa noted that the house had the right to equally review salaries of commissioners.
He urged the lawmakers to take step towards reducing the commissioners’ salaries.

“The house under section 194 of the constitution has the right to fix salaries of the executive arm of government.

“Maybe because they are being paid fat salaries that is even bigger than that of house members, that is why they don’t have regard for the house.

“And since the government policy of belt-tightening should start with reduction of their salaries, government will be able to save a lot of money to build roads and other essential amenities for the people,” said Mr. Odefa.

The speaker therefore referred the matter to the House Committee on Finance, announced the adjournment of the sitting to control the situation. (Premium Times)


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