Imo council chairmen declare suspension illegal, disregard order
Incoming government will implement FoI Act, good governance’
Last week’s suspension of 27 chairmen of Imo State local government areas by the State House of Assembly has been declared illegal by the council bosses, who have promptly disregarded the order.The Guardian learnt at weekend that the chairmen were still carrying out their duties at their various council headquarters across the state.
Chairman of Nkwere Local Government Area, Augustine Nwagwu, told journalists that the suspension order by the Imo lawmakers was illegal, adding that only the governor has the powers to suspend them.
The House of Assembly presided over by the Speaker, Acho Ihim, while responding to the motion to suspend the chairmen for alleged failure to honour its invitation with Directors of General Administration and Services (DAGS) and Treasurers for alleged financial misconduct had suspended them last Thursday.
The House directed them to handover the affairs and government property to their deputies and resolved to write to the state Commissioner of Police (CP) to enforce the order, instructing that no person, other than the lawmakers would lift the suspension.
But some lawyers said the lawmakers lacked such powers, arguing that based on section 73 (b) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, only the governor of a state could investigate the council chairmen and direct the lawmakers to suspend them if necessary.
Meanwhile, deputy governor-elect, Gerald Irona, had assured that the incoming government of Emeka Ihedioha would observe the Freedom of Information Act (FoI). Speaking at the weekend, while receiving members of the Imo Newspapers Publishers Association of Nigeria (NPAN), headed by Henry Epke in Oguta, he urged the publishers to be mindful of what they publish, promising that the incoming government would work with them.
He said the FoI Act would be a guiding operational principle to work with, adding: “We shall adopt the FoI Act in Imo State and ensure that it is operational. We shall be guided by the rule of law and we shall work to build an egalitarian society in the state.”
Responding, Ekpe promised partnership of newspaper publishers in the state with the incoming administration, describing the outgoing administration of Governor Rochas Okorocha as media unfriendly and urging Ihedioha’s administration to carry the publishers along in all its programmes.
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