Enugu lawmakers order arrest of Accountant General
THE ongoing frosty relationship between the Enugu State Governor, Sullivan Chime, and members of the State House of Assembly, has taken a new turn, signaling more turbulent days in the twilight of the incumbent government.
Yesterday, the House ordered the arrest of the Accountant General, Mr. Basil Okolie, for failing to answer to their summon to explain why the legislative arm of government should be denied their overhead, thereby hampering their legitimate functions.
The overhead has been delayed for the past two months.
The order to arrest the Accountant General trailed the indefinite suspension of Hon. Johnbull Nwagu, representing Udi North State Constituency, for statements that implied that “the House is a powerless one.”
Nwagu, who is the House Committee Chairman for Finance and Appropriation, was alleged to have told a fellow members that the lawmakers would not get their overhead because the House had failed to approve the request for N11 billion loan presented to them by the out-going governor, Chime.
Still boiling over Nwagu’s uncomplimentary comment, the House yesterday ordered the arrest of Okolie. Sources said that the House “needed to pass the message that it is not quite as toothless as some people imagine. If we have been seen as toothless, perhaps we have found our teeth, and we can bite with them. It is time to halt this impunity.”
Hon. S. K. Ude-Okoye, representing Awgu North, who moved the motion for arrest of the Accountant General, said Okolie “has neglected to appear before the House, and, for this reason, the lawmakers had to exercise their constitutional power to compel him, to appear before them.”
Consequently, the House empowered the state Commissioner of Police to issue a warrant of arrest for Okolie to appear before them at their next sitting on Tuesday, April 21.
According to Ude-Okoye, the “Accountant General has continuously failed to obey our call to respond to questions from the lawmakers. Each time he failed to answer the summons, he would say that he was sick. But we learnt that he was always in his office. This is the third time, and we cannot condone it any more. He wants to show the whole world that the House of Assembly has no powers. He wants to turn us round like akara (bean cake). If we don’t use our powers, I don’t think we will get the desired result.”
The motion for the arrest was unanimously supported when the Speaker, Hon. Eugene Odo, put it to vote.