Ebonyi House suspends member for alleged drunkenness

LAWMAKERS at the Ebonyi State House of Assembly yesterday suspended one of their colleagues, Mrs. Lillian Igwe, over alleged drunkenness.

The House also ordered its former Speaker, Ikechukwu Nwankwo, to refund N105 million he allegedly misappropriated while in office, following a report by its ad hoc committee, which probed Nwankwo’s tenure.

However, sensing a brewing crisis in the House, Governor Martin Elechi yesterday invited the lawmakers for a late-night meeting to resolve the matters.

Moving the motion to suspend Igwe (PDP, Ivo), the member resenting Afikpo South East State Constituency, Blasé Orji, alleged that she was seen on several occasions drinking herself into a state of stupor and vomiting on herself, “thereby bringing the House to ridicule and disrepute”.

“Mr. Speaker, Honourable members, the House has been brought to ridicule by the member representing Ivo State Constituency Hon. Lillian Igwe. She does not only engage in excessive alcoholic drinking, she also boards tricycles popularly called KEKE NAPEP to the House, thereby not carrying herself as an honourable member. Mr. Speaker based on this therefore, I move a motion that Hon Lillian Igwe be suspended from the House,” Oji moved.

Christian Ursulor, (PDP, Ezza South) seconding the motion.

After taking contributions from other members of the House, the Speaker, Chukwuma Nwazunku, put the motion to question and it was unanimously adopted.

But Igwe, a lawyer, who was absent from the plenary told reporters that there was no truth in the allegations, stressing that “only the members’ imaginations played out the petty behaviour they accused me of.”

The refund order on the former speaker followed the submission of the report by the seven-man ad-hoc committee set up by the House to probe financial transactions under Nwankwo, spanning from June 7 to December 20, 2011.

Submitting the report, the committee’s chairman, Odefa Obasi Odefa, disclosed how the committee discovered that the former Speaker, “embezzled over N28 million out of the N30 million given to the House as take-off grant; N3 million as out-of-pocket allowance from N15 million given to the House for renovation of the house chambers; N25 million meant for wardrobe allowance of House members; N5 million for procurement of drugs for the House and N7 million for installation of satellite dishes for the offices of the members”.

The committee also accused the erstwhile Speaker, who was impeached last year on grounds of misappropriation of funds belonging to the House, of “diverting N15 million from the Assembly’s accounts as legal fees; N5 million for non-accident bonus; N10 million for production of the House journal and another N32 million as out-of-pocket allowances as well as purchasing a 33KVA generator with the N3 million released to him for insurance cover for members’ cars.

After the report was submitted, the House dissolved into a committee of the whole. And after extensive deliberations, it resolved that the impeached Speaker alongside the suspended Accountant of the House, Martins Ibenyi, be asked to refund the money.


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