There was a pandemonium at the Ebonyi State House of Assembly, Nkaliki Road on Wednesday following a squabble between the Chairman of Ohaukwu Local Government Area Barr. Clement Odah and Hon. Chinedu Onah, House Committee Chairman on Information and the Member Representing Ohaukwu South State Constituency.
It was alleged that trouble started when the chairman barged into the house screening room where Ministries Department and Agencies (MDAs) were undergoing screening and gave the lawmaker a dirty slap for stepping down four of his political nominees.
Consequently, the state house of Assembly moved a motion for the chairman’s immediate arrest and prosecution by the police.
The lawmakers said the melodrama in the committee room was not an assault only to the first time lawmaker, Hon. Onah but to the entire legislative members.
Citizens’ Advocate gathered that Odah, the council chairman who was angered by the alleged stepping down of four nominees he selected for management committee members and Liaison officers during screening at the Assembly Complex by the lawmaker from his local government.
Reacting to the incident, the Deputy Chief Whip of the State Assembly, Benjamin Ezekoma who is also representing Ebonyi North East state constituency described the development as uncalled for.
According to him, “what happened is that Chinedu Onah stepped outside from the committee room because he said he saw his chairman and he went and greeted him so the chairman worked out on him and started going inside the committee room; and Chinedu Onah as an honourable member, moved into the committee room and the chairman said you small boy!, your are interrupting me by stopping my nominee, I put you there. Then Chinedu said you didn’t put me here my constituency put me here not you as a person. He said: ‘is that what you said, is that what you said’ and he slapped him, we were all embarrassed, we didn’t know what to do, so the guy calmed himself down.
On his part, Chinedu Onah the accused lawmaker denied stepping down the chairman’s nominees.
He said “Yes the local government Chairman of Ohaukwu barged into the community room this morning where we were taking some MDAs on their various budgets as was presented to the house and started shouting: ‘this small boy, that is me, stepped down my nominees as members of management committee members, I have come here to tell you that you must clear them.
“But unfortunately I did not step down anybody because that is not my constituency. I am not from his constituency; I am not representing Clement Odah. Beside, if I had seen any reason to step anybody down in the course of the screening I owe him no apology to have done that because that is my job to represent my people but unfortunately I did not do that.
“The next thing he did was that when they asked him that as chairman he should have asked me what I did, before accusing me, and the next thing I heard was a very huge and dirty slap on my face.
“But the only thing I did was not retaliating because I’m an honorable member and the law should take its cause, that was exactly what happens.
“The honorable members simply suspended the committee room and moved over to the plenary, resolved that he should be invited by the committee on LGA and that the psychiatric hospital should ascertain the level of insanity in him, that the security agencies should get him arrested and persecute him, that the committee on LGA should investigate more and ascertain his activities at the local government.
“The plenary was presided by the Deputy Speaker, the motion was moved by the Leader of the house and every other honorable member was allowed to make an input.
In a Swift reaction, the council chairman, Clement Odah, denied ever slapping anybody when he visited the house committee room.
He also denied the allegation that he was allegedly beaten by other lawmakers who were not happy with the Chairman’s attitude towards their colleague who is just a first timer in the house.
He said, “I did not slap anybody, yes I was at the House of Assembly today but I went there to meet one of my friends. While I was waiting for him I seized the opportunity to exchange pleasantry with some of the honorable members most of whom are my friends and colleagues.
“Yesterday the nominees for Management Committee Members and Liaison appeared to the House for screening and about four of them were not screened on the basis that there was petitions against them. On getting to the House of Assembly I sighted one of our honorable members and I felt it was a ground to get some clarification so I inquired from him, honorable Chinedu Onah to be precise.
“That was when all of them moved in to interact with other honorable members as they were waiting for other members at the conference hall, it was not a sitting room, not at all I believe, they were waiting for the principal officers.
“After about three minutes he came in and advanced towards me shouting that he was not happy the way I talked to him, I said there is nothing wrong with the way I talked to youhim I just proffered my little advice as my younger brother and your council chairman.
“When the argument was heated the other honorable members advised that we should call it off and then they advised me to leave the conference hall, I entered my vehicle and left the Assembly complex. The other version of slap is an alien to me”.