Tempers Flare In House Of Reps Over Gov Okorocha’s Amnesty To Criminals


House of Representatives lawmakers on Tuesday, raised tempers over Rochas Okorocha, Imo state Governor’s amnesty to some criminal elements, who surrendered to the state, after being alleged to have perpetrated the New Year Day killings in Rivers State and declared wanted by the River State Security Council.

While some All Progressives Congress, APC lawmakers upheld the action as being correct under law, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, lawmakers kicked against it, insisting that the action was unlawful and would set a bad precedence if sustained.

Their arguments followed a motion, which Hon. Betty Apiafi and eleven others, brought on the alleged grant amnesty by Governor Okorocha to persons who have been declared wanted by Rivers state Security Council.

The lawmakers had raised the concern that the same people who were granted amnesty, were criminal gang members of the late notorious Don Wanny, who attacked and killed about 23 innocent citizens on January 1st, 2018, at Omoku town in Rivers state.

They informed the House that Rivers state government had earlier raised an alarm over plans by the Federal government to grant amnesty to some persons who have been declared wanted by the Rivers State Security Council, yet nothing was done to avert same at the time.

The legislators were worried that a state governor within an indivisible and indissoluble federation of Nigeria could deliberately purport to grant amnesty to persons who were on wanted list of the security council of another state.

They prayed the House to condemn the alleged grant of amnesty, urge the Federal Government and law enforcement agencies not to recognize the amnesty and ensure the immediate arrest and prosecution of the wanted persons.

As soon as Hon. Apiafi concluded reading the motion, Hon. Nnana Igbokwe, APC Imo state, raised a point of constitutional order, questioning the jurisdiction of the House to deliberate on the matter, which he said was an issue affecting two states.

He drew the attention of the House to Section 212 of the 1999 constitution, which he said conferred on the Governor the prerogative of mercy, insisting that what Okorocha did was right.

On his part, Femi Gbajabiamila, Majority Leader of the House, affirmed Okorocha’s action saying that it was up to Rivers state to appeal the matter in court and not for the House of Representatives to decide.

Their position angered some members who felt that Gbajabiamilla, considered the matter based on sentiment without considering the proper position of law, as they accused him of manipulating the interpretation of that constitutional provision to favour his party and not the nation.

Hon Uzoma Abonta had argued that the constitution provided that for Okorocha to have given the amnesty, the crime should have been committed in Imo state, but in this case, the crimes were committed in Rivers state.

Several other efforts by APC lawmakers to legitimise that action by Okorocha was met with stiff resistance as many lawmakers who argued in favour of the motion insisted that the House had the jurisdiction to hear the matter.

In view of the differences, Speaker Yakubu Dogara, who said that he was increasingly confused by all their counsels, said that there was no way he could rule on the point of order, as the facts before him were unclear.

He therefore directed the Chairmen of Ethics and Privileges, National Security and Public Safety, and Judiciary Committees, to look into the matter and report back to the House in one week to guide the decisions of the House on the substantive motion.

The post Tempers Flare In House Of Reps Over Gov Okorocha’s Amnesty To Criminals appeared first on Independent Newspapers Nigeria.

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Author: Our Correspondents