Raymond Ozoji, Awka
Deputy Majority Leader and Chairman House of Assembly Committee on Public Petitions of the Anambra State House of Assembly, Hon. Emeka Aforka, has exonerated members of the 7th state assembly from rumours making the rounds that lawmakers allegedly collected N700,000 each from transition committee chairmen to confirm their appointments recently.
Aforka, who said that one of the constitutional obligations of the legislative arm was to fight corruption and all forms of illegality, stated that it was an act of defamation and character assassination to associate members of the state assembly with such scandal.
The Orumba-North representative in the 7th legislature who spoke with a handful of journalists in his office at the legislative complex Awka yesterday, explained that peddlers of such information should verify from the transition committee chairmen, if they gave any lawmaker money to enable them to be appointed.
He said the 7th state assembly does not condone illegality in whatever guise but follows the provisions of the Constitution hook-line and sinker in its proceedings and activities.
Although he was cognisant that the appointment of local government transition committee chairmen was legal and backed by relevant provisions of the law, he said the chairmen emerged not by recommendations of members but through an electoral college of the legislature, stressing that there was no basis for anyone to bring the legislators to disrepute.
Aforka maintained, “Anybody who was not confirmed was not on the basis of whether you bring money or not because money doesn’t play any factor there as far as I am concerned. We do our work according to the Constitution and according to the laws of Anambra state that established local government administration.
“We are not part of illegality. All the 21 local government transition committee chairmen were confirmed. None was left out. But I want to quickly debunk and stand to be challenged, if anybody is telling you that Anambra State House of Assembly is demanding kobo from anybody for confirmation, it’s a lie!
“And if anybody has proof to that, he should bring it forward. The duty of the House of Assembly is to confirm the nominees from His Excellency provided that the nominees are qualified.”
The lawmaker also emphasized that it was not the duty of the legislature to compel the executive arm to conduct local government elections because the constitution has empowered the state executive council led by the governor to propose how local government should be run.
He said that the executive arm did not deliberately decide not to conduct local council elections as evident in the several efforts made by Governor Willie Obiano to conduct local government elections but due to litigations against the state government, it seems to be constrained in conducting local government polls.
Aforka opined that any person saying that the governor did not want to conduct local government elections in the state was only being economical with the truth because the resolution of the myriad of court cases hampering conduct of the elections would usher in duly elected officials and representatives at the local government areas.
According to him, “The issue of transition committees of various local governments is not illegal. If it is illegal the state assembly will not confirm their appointments. It is enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Local Government Administration Law of Anambra state.”