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Abia Assembly Factions Reconcile, Disagree Over Deputy Speaker

The crisis rocking the Abia State House of Assembly has been resolved as the two factions have been reconciled during a parley with the Deputy Governor of the state, Sir Ude Oko Chukwu.

Vanguard gathered that the Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, had directed Oko Chukwu, to meet with the two factions who agreed to give peace a chance and work together, with their tenure expiring in a few weeks’ time.

It was further gathered that the two parties were directed to maintain their original positions in the House before the crisis broke.

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Despite the reconciliation, the two factions are yet to agree on who is the authentic deputy speaker of the Assembly.

A faction led by the Deputy Speaker, Chief Ifeanyi Uchendu(PDP/Ohafia South), had on May 2, 2023, sat at a Government guest and impeached the speaker, Chief Chinedum Orji over alleged offences. The faction also elected Hon. Chukwudi Apugo, (Umuahia East constituency), as the new speaker.

However, few hours after the sitting, Orji, who represents Umuahia Central constituency, stormed the Assembly with another group of lawmakers including the majority of the House, Chief Solomon Akpulonu(PDP/Obingwa East), and held a sitting at the House where they suspended nine of their colleagues who participated in his impeachment. Some of the members, who had earlier participated in the impeachment of the speaker at the guest house, also joined him in sitting at the House. Among those suspended and removed from office were the deputy speaker and leader of the other faction, Hon. Ifeanyi Uchendu. The member representing Ohafia North, Hon. Mandela Obasi, was elected the new deputy speaker.

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But it appears that the crisis is not over as the two factions are yet to agree on who is the authentic deputy speaker. The Assembly in a release signed by the Speaker, Hon. Chinedum Orji; Deputy Speaker, Hon. Mandela Obasi; Majority Leader, Hon. Solomon Akpulonu and 13 others, disclosed that the House will reconvene in an extraordinary session, on Friday, 26th May, 2023. The release also recognized Obasi as the deputy speaker contrary to the position allegedly taken during the reconciliation that the two groups maintain their original offices.

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Minority Leader of the House, Chief Chijioke Chukwu(APC/Bende North), has insisted that there was no resolution to change the deputy speaker of the Assembly, Hon. Ifeanyi Uchendu.

Chukwu, backed by members of the former faction, stated that the peaceful resolution of the crisis didn’t include the recognition of Obasi as the new deputy speaker.

The release signed by the Speaker and 15 others read; “Whereas on the 2nd May, 2023, some members of Abia State House of Assembly purportedly gathered at a government facility namely Emeka Omeruah Guest House, Umuahia and claimed to have impeached the Speaker of the 7th Abia State House of Assembly, Hon. Chinedum Orji. And whereas, the House of Assembly in its duly convened plenary session on the same 2nd May, 2023, impeached the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Ifeanyi Uchendu, who presided over the said illegal session outside the legislative chambers and also suspended some members of the House whose pictures appeared in that illegal sitting . And as the above actions and inactions created a crisis in the Assembly.

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“It is hereby peacefully resolved as follows: That the suspension of some Honourable Members of the House of Assembly is hereby lifted and voided via legislative actions. That Hon. Mandela Obasi remains the Deputy Speaker of the 7th Abia State House of Assembly. That the House shall reconvene in an extra-ordinary session on the 26th Day of May, 2023 for presentation and consideration of end of tenure reports from the following committees.”

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It remains to be seen whether the group led by the embattled Deputy speaker, Uchendu, will allow their leader to be ‘sacrificed’.

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