The Rivers State House of Assembly has suspended the lawmaker representing Ikwerre Constituency, Azubuike Wanjoku, over a publication credited to him, concerning an earlier resolution of the House.
Hon. Wanjoku is a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Assembly.
Wanjoku was quoted to have asked the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-dominated Assembly to exclude the names of the six lawmakers elected under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), from the resolution, saying that they would seek legal redress, if their names were included in the petition.
The publication read in part: “APC lawmakers in the Rivers State House of Assembly will send their position on the matter to the National Assembly. We will explore legal redress if our names (APC lawmakers) are contained in the petition.”
Speaking on the matter, during plenary, yesterday, Majority Leader, Martin Amaewhule, expressed sadness that the lawmaker would be making such comments at a time the Eighth Assembly was putting efforts to move the State forward.
Relying on Order 42, Rule 10, of the House Rules, Amaewhule called on the House to suspend the lawmaker.
Addressing the House earlier, Speaker Ikuinyi Owaji-Ibani, insisted that the publication was made in bad faith and intended to bring disrepute to the image of the 8th Assembly.
He said lawmakers must conduct themselves within the ambit of the law and House Rules.
He said: “Recently, this Assembly has heard in the print media, electronic media, every now and then, comments, made by a member of Rivers State House of Assembly. Beyond making such comments orally, the member went ahead and printed such comments and such comments issued in bad taste just to bring down the value and name built over the decades, by this great Assembly. As members, it is improper for us to conduct ourselves in a manner unbefittig of a legislator.
“Our attention has been drawn to several of such comments and write-ups by a member of the Rivers State House of Assembly. Hon Azubike Wanjoku. The last, but not limited to a publication in the Nations newspaper of 22nd November, 2017.”
When a vote was put across, 15 lawmakers present at the plenary, including the Minority Leader, voted in favour of the suspension. However, two APC lawmakers voted against.
Speaking further after the vote, the Speaker referred the matter to the Ethics and Previlleges Committee for a thorough investigation and to find out why the House should not proceed with the suspension of Wanjoku.
He said: “By his suspension, therefore, Hon Azubuike Wanjoku should withdraw from any plenary until he answers to the matter before the House and the Ethic and Previlleges Committee is to invite Azubuike Wanjoku as quickly as possible to answer these issues”.
Reacting to the suspension, former Deputy Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Leyii Kwanee, described the suspension of Wanjoku as a sad day for democracy in state, saying that the lawmaker was denied the right to be heard.
Kwanee further said thatm for the Speaker to raise the issue on the floor of the House was a mockery of democracy.