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Reps Divided Over Amnesty To Criminals in Imo



Leadership Nigeria News Today

The House of Representatives was yesterday engulfed in a rowdy session lawmakers were divided over a motion condenming the amnesty granted by the Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha to some alleged criminals declared wanted in Rivers State.

The debate was to later degenerate into a  face-off first between Imo and Rivers states lawmakers and later between Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) members and their All Progressives Congress(APC) counterparts.

‎This is just as the House mandated it’s  committees on Justice, National Security and Public Safety, Ethics and Privilege to look into the matter and advice the house, within one week.

This is with the view to ensure that the House is properly guided on the motion.

The motion sponsored by Hon Betty Apiafi and 11 other lawmakers from Rivers State is titled;”Alleged Grant of Amnesty by Governor Rochas Okorocha to persons who had been declared wanted by the Rivers State Security Council”

Apiafi while leading the debate expressed concern that some persons declared wanted by the Rivers State Security Council in connection to the killing of some residents in Omoku, Rivers were recently granted amnesty by Okorocha.

She  recalled that a deadly attack by a criminal gang led by one Don Wanny, who is now deceased, in Omoku on January 1, had led to the death of 23 residents returning from a cross over service.

According to her, after the attack, the Rivers State Security Council acting on security reports declared 30 persons suspected to be part of the gang wanted, with a N20million bounty placed on each of them.

The lawmaker noted that the wanted persons have been granted amnesty by the Imo State governor and urged the federal government  and security agencies not to recognice the alleged amnesty.

According to her”the alleged amnesty granted by Governor Okorocha in concert with some ‘highly placed’ politicians to persons who have been declared wanted by the security agencies was clearly in bad faith, unimaginable, preposterous and part of a wider plan to re-intergrate and arm these ‘criminal elements’ into society ahead of the 2019 general elections.”

However, speaking under Point of Order, Hon Nnanna  Igbokwe from Imo State, said the differences between Imo and Rivers states over the amnesty issue would be resolved at the Supreme Court.

Citing  section 323 of the 1999 constitution, Igbokwe argued that the House does not have the jurisdiction to entertain issues involving two states or a matter between a state and the Federal Government.

Similarly, in his contribution,  the Majority Leader of the house, Hon  Femi Gbajabiamila, said the House cannot entertain the issue as it would amount  to legislative overreach.

He noted that section 212 of the 1999 constitution(as amended), vests on a governor the power to grant pardon to  any person convicted of an offense.

Nevertheless, the House leader said if the Rivers State government has any misgiving with what the Imo State government has done, it should go to court.
On his part, Hon Uzoma Nkem-Abonta  argued that a state cannot grant amnesty to a person  for a crime committed in another state.

The lawmaker added that section 212 of the constitution  does not apply in the matter and urged the House to entertain the motion.

In his intervention, Hon Bashir Babale  said the subject of the motion is a serious issue, that the House cannot underplay. However, Babale stated that  if members have misgivings on the body of the motion, it could be amended and taken  in view of the security challenges in the country.

After a very rowdy moment, which lasted for several minutes, the Speaker of the House, Mr. Yakubu Dogara  deferred  the motion.