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Rivers Assembly probe of Amaechi’s administration suffers setback


Rotimi Ameachi


ATTEMPTS by Rivers State House of Assembly to probe Governor Chibuike Amaechi’s administration have suffered a setback as some lawmakers may have backed out.

The state government, through the Commissioner of Information and Communications, Ibim Semenitari, has dismissed a news report of a rift between Governor Chibuike Amaechi and members of the Rivers State House of Assembly,

But the lawmakers, who alleged they have not been paid their salaries for four months, had on Monday summoned Commissioners of Finance, Health, Power, Transport, Budget and Economic Planning, Information and Communications, Agriculture, Works, Tourism and heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to explain the reasons for non-payment of workers’ salaries and seeming economic standstill in the state.

Out of the nine commissioners summoned, the Commissioners for Transport, George Tolofari, Austin Wokocha (Power) and Charles Gogo (Budget and Economic planning), including the Chairman, Rivers State Assembly Service Commission, honoured the invitation.
The House, which was slated to meet by 10:00 a.m., could not sit until about 11:00 a.m. due to what sources told The Guardian was pressure on the lawmakers to reconsider their stance of probing the activities of the various ministries.

The Guardian also gathered that the lawmakers had been invited to Abuja for a meeting with the governor to resolve the issues. But some of the aggrieved lawmakers said they might not attend the meeting.

The Leader of the House, Chidi Lloyd, had appealed to the Deputy Speaker, Leyii Kwane who presided over sitting yesterday, to give the commissioners, particularly those who did not honour the invitation, up till Thursday to prepare their presentation to the lawmakers. He argued that since the government is winding down, most of the cabinet members were tidying up their reports ahead of May 29, while even those that honoured the invitation did not come with any relevant documents to backup whatever response they will give to the lawmakers.

Visibly angered by Lloyd’s entreaty on behalf of the commissioners, the Deputy House Leader, Nname Ewor, who presented the motion on Monday, suggested that the House should probe those present and reschedule a date for those absent as the matter was of urgent state importance.

But in a swift reaction, a member representing Akuku-Toru Constituency 11, Benibo Anabraba, said it was wrong for Lloyd who he accused of abdicating his responsibility by not being present at Monday’s sitting to canvass that the commissioners should be given more time to appear before the House to defend their activities in government.

The Deputy Speaker said that the decision to probe the various commissioners was in the best interest of Rivers people and to strengthen democracy, adding that the decision to adjourn the House till Thursday to enable the commissioners prepare for the probe was not an act of cowardice as he cannot be intimidated by anyone.

Meanwhile, angered by the decision of the Deputy Speaker not to press on with the probe, the Deputy Leader said that he had washed off his hands from the probe of the executive members.

Immediately after the ruling, most of the lawmakers were sighted grumbling and murmuring as The Guardian overheard some persons like Irene Inimgba, member representing Port Harcourt Constituency 11, saying that they felt so disappointed on the outcome of the meeting, adding that they may not turn up tomorrow for another waste of time.

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