From Chuks Moses, Awka
The crisis currently rocking the Anambra State Assembly may have deepened as the state chapter of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has suspended the new Speaker, Ikem Uzoezie; the Deputy Speaker, Hartford Oseke and the Majority Leader, Jideofor Okoye for their perceived roles in the removal of the erstwhile Speaker Rita Mmaduagwu.
In a press conference at the party secretariat in Awka, the state’s party chairman, Chief Nobert Obi, lamented the role of the three in the crisis.
The order which was conveyed in a 5-paragraph statement read and presented to journalists in Awka said they would remain suspended “pending the time they will appear before the disciplinary committee of the party for further action”.
Chief Obi described the Assembly crisis as unnecessary now going by the attacks on the cohesion of the party occasioned by the massive misunderstandings arising from the recent party primaries.
He said the party has set up disciplinary committee to investigate their grievances in the bid to restore the peace the house has been enjoying since the inception of the 6th House of Assembly.
Obi however maintained that APGA was not the only party in crisis and called for unity to ensure peace.
Earlier in the day, the newly elected Speaker of the Anambra State assembly-Hon Ikem Uzoezie declared the commitment of the new leadership and the whole members of the state assembly to the sustained good works and development strides of Gov Willie Obiano.
Uzoezie made this assertion in an interview with journalists in Awka to dispel insinuations alleged to have been circulated by the camp of the former speaker -Rita Maduagwu, that the new helmsmen were targeting removal of Gov Obiano.
He said that the insinuation that they were plotting to impeach Obiano was laughable, as none of them has such intension. That they would rather assist the governor sustain his giant strides in the state.
According to him, “our grouse with Maduagwu is purely internal workings of assembly and about our legislative functions. We have heaps of bills and motions unattended to and the speaker sits on them. She has frustrated our presence to make positive impact on our constituents. She has reduced all of us to mere benchwarmers. It’s no longer acceptable….
“Look around even in the assembly premises which remain an eyesore, dirty and unkempt, yet monies were monthly appropriated for the maintenance. Oftentimes the sitting environment was very hot because of faulty air conditioning or lack of serviceable generating set for days. There was no waster for the conveniences and it lasted for days”, Uzoezie lamented on end.
The palpable tension since Tuesday when Maduagwu was removed, got to a feverish pitch early morning Thursday when an intimidating number of heavily armed police officers cordoned off the Assembly complex.
When called on the phone, Maduagwu said she has gone to Ukpor, Nnnewi South Council where she rebuffed attempts to see or speak to journalists even those at the gate of her countryhome. She insisted that any meeting would be next week as she was holding series of meetings with village stakeholders.
At the Assembly complex, the situation however degenerated when some party supporters stormed the area allegedly to force police out of the area.
In their effort to move into the restricted areas, heavy shootings erupted and teargas was fired into the crowd. Everyone in sight scampering for safety.
A member of the Assembly, Hon Beverly Ikpeazu representing Onitsha south 11 state constituency was caught in the crossfire and she fell down unconscious apparently from dislocation as she found it difficult walking unaided.
Ikpeazu was first stopped by security agents who denied her entry into the Assembly, but shortly before she could introduce her self, a hail of teargas meant for touts caught her.
She was helped into the complex by security agents who aided her inside.