The Deputy Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, Okey Onyekanma, and nine lawmakers on Tuesday defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) from Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and Action Action (AA). Onyekanma equally resigned as Chairman, House Committee on Rules and Business. Minority leader of the assembly Ekene Nnodimele also resigned his position.
The lawmakers are PDP’s Chyna Iwuanyanwu, Chidiebere Ogbunikpa, Paul Emeziem and Heclus Okorocha. Authur Egwim, Obinna Okwara, Johnson Duru and Ngozi Obiefule joined the APC from AA. Ekene Nnodimele joined APC from APGA. The letters of resignation and defection were read by the speaker, Collins Chiji, at the plenary.
The resignations came after Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinma sacked all members of the Interim Management Committees (IMCs) in the 27 councils of the state. The committees were constituted by the immediate past governor, Emeka Ihedioha, on assumption of duty in June last year, after suspending the elected office holders following a resolution to that effect by the Imo House of Assembly over alleged financial malfeasance and other allegations against them.
The suspended executives, all members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), were elected in an election conducted in 2018 during the Rochas Okorocha administration. Ihedioha is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The dissolution of the committees was contained in a statement by the Principal Secretary to the Governor, Mr. TUC Nwokonkwo. The sacked members of the committees were directed to handover all government assets in their possession to the Directors of Administration and General Services (DAGS) of their respective councils, who would take full charge and control of the councils and assets, pending further directives by the government.
The suspended council chiefs had about two weeks ago attempted to retake their positions, relying on the Supreme Court judgment in the case of Ekiti State, which ruled that governors and Houses of Assembly had no power to sack them, claiming that the judgment also empowered them to resume after the governors and Houses of Assembly had been served copies of the judgment.
As at press time, it was not clear whether the governor would recall the suspended council chiefs, since they are from the same APC party. In reaction, the state chapter of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) commended the governor for the action, admonishing the workers in statement jointly issued by the state Chairman, Mr. Richard Eze, and Publicity Secretary/Public Relations Officer, Prince C. Njoku; to offer their loyalty to the new governor.
Meanwhile, Uzodinma has appointed Cosmas Iwu as Secretary to the Government of Imo State (SSG). Other appointments made, according to a statement signed by Nwokonkwo include Cyprian Akaolisa as Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice; Nnamdi Anyaehie, a former Imo PDP chairman, as Chief of Staff to the Governor, and Oguike Nwachukwu as Chief Press Secretary (CPS) and Media Adviser to the Governor.
All the appointments take immediate effect, except that of attorney general and commissioner for Justice, which has to pass through the screening and confirmation processes of the state Assembly, according to the statement.