Members of the House of Representatives expressed mixed reactions to a motion on the propriety of the alleged grant of amnesty by Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, to some suspected criminals on the wanted list of Rivers State Security Council,
During debate on the motion yesterday, the chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts, Hon. Kingsley Chinda and 11 other of his colleagues from Rivers State, condemned Okorocha’s amnesty to the wanted criminals.
Subsequently, the House urged the executive arm of government not to recognize the amnesty and mandated its committee on legislative compliance to ensure the expected resolution is adhered to.
However, Speaker of the House, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, who presided over plenary was forced to technically step the motion down, when the sitting degenerated into a rowdy session as conflicting pieces of constitutional opinion were raised on the matter, mostly divided on the party lines of the PDP versus the ruling APC, and River and Imo lawmakers.
Citing section 232 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), Hon. Raphael Igbokwe argued against the motion to the effect that the House lacked legal capacity to address issues of disagreement between states of the federation, noting that anyone aggrieved should approach the Supreme Court for adjudication.
Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, while citing section 212 of the constitution, also argued that governors are empowered to grant amnesty, but Hon. Bashir Babale called for caution on the matter, describing it as “very sensitive”.
Hon. Johnson Agbonayima also insisted that only an amendment can stop the Governors from granting amnesty.
Chinda while leading debate on the motion, said the reported amnesty granted the wanted criminals “in concert with some ‘highly placed’ politicians, was in bad faith, unimaginable, preposterous, an part of a wider campaign to reintegrate and arm these criminals ahead of the 2019 general elections”.
When the atmosphere became tensed as the debate progressed, Dogara said the matter “is confusing”, and that more consultations needed to be done, and therefore directed the Committees on Justice, Ethics and Privileges, National Security and Intelligence to scrutinize the motion against the arguments, and advise the House.