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Political Hoodlums Set Ebonyi Assembly Ablaze

FROM IGNATIUS OKPARA, Abakaliki – The crisis-ridden EBonyi state House of Assembly complex was on Tuesday gutted by a mysterious fire which damaged two key departments.

African Examiner gathered that the inferno, which started at about 1.47a.m. affected the Account and Supply departments as well as office of the Deputy Speaker of the Assembly.

The fire also destroyed vital documents in the affected offices before it was stopped from spreading to the chambers of the House by the timely intervention of security operatives and men of the fire service, who intervened promptly.

The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) state, Mr. Chris Anyanwu, who confirmed the early morning disaster, said it took the effort of the Commissioner of Police, when he got a distress call that the Assembly complex was on fire, to save the situation.

He said the Commissioner immediately mobilised his men and contacted the fire service, who acted swiftly to put out the fire before it spread to the chambers of the House.

The command spokesman added that no life was lost but only documents were destroyed.

He stated that the police had not ascertained the cause of the fire.

Meanwhile, the House, during its sitting with 13 members yesterday, condemned the fire incident, describing it as a calculated attempt to stop the investigation into a petition written by one Clement Odda, a legal practitioner on alleged mismanagement of fund by the executive arm of government.

Speaking on a motion, Obasi Odefa representing Onicha East, said no amount of threat and intimidation will deter the members of the House from carrying out their legitimate duty, and urged the Inspector General of Police and the Department of State Security (DSS) to protect the lawmakers and the complex.

He alleged that about 500 thugs were brought into the state with the mission to attack and kill the lawmakers for doing their duties, saying that they were ready to die in the course of discharging their duties legitimately.

While seconding the motion, a member representing Ishielu North, Julius Nwokpor, described the fire at the Assembly as a plot to scare members from doing their duties and called on security agencies to safeguard the House and the members.

Speaker of the House, Chukwuma Nwanzuku, while adopting the motion through a voice vote, condemned the incident, saying that no amount of threat and harassment will stop the members from performing their duties.

He called on security agencies to investigate the cause of the fire and arrest and prosecute those behind the heinous act.

The Speaker had also declared the seats of two more lawmakers namely, Deputy Speaker, Blaise Orji and the member representing Abakaliki North, Oliver Nwachukwu, vacant for contravening section 109 subsection by defecting to another party, when their tenure had not expired.

Our Correspondent reports that the development brought to six, the number of members’ seats declared vacant by the House. Four were declared vacant on February 11, this year.

The state Governor Martin Elechi, who visited the Assembly complex, has condemned the fire incident, saying that he would summon the state security committee to investigate the cause of the inferno.


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