The House commenced Plenary after the adoption of the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 11th August, 2020, as correct and as a working document.
LETTER FROM THE GOVERNOR.
The Speaker read a letter renominating Barr Eze Chikamnayo as the Transition Commitee Chairman for Umunneochi Local Government Area of Abia State.
The Governor also nominated Kenneth Madubuike as Deputy Transition Commitee Chairman for Umunneochi Local Government Area.
The House then composed an Ad Hoc Commitee as follows for the purpose of screening the nominees.
(1) Hon Munahchim Alozie – Chairman
(2) Rt Hon Kennedy Njoku
(3) Hon. Abraham Oba
(4) Hon. Chijioke Chukwu .
(1) An appeal for the recovery of a Private Park in Aba by one Chief N.E. Ikpeazu.
The Petitioner is asking the House to Investigate why the earlier resolution of the House on the matter was not complied with by one Eugene Eze Job.
(2) Incessant harassment by agents of Abia State Signage and Advertising Agency (ABSAA). Their Members are being arrested to pay for advertisement fee.
(3) Ndi Torti Village, Okporoenyi Autonomous Community for the removal of their Traditional Ruler,
Eze Ogbonnaya Cletus
(4) A Petition from Barr Nwaugo Victor C and Co titled INDISCRIMINATE ERECTION OF STALLS IN EKEOHA SHOPPING CENTRE, ABA — A GENOCIDE WAITING TO HAPPEN against
the Abia State Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Mr. Cosmos Ndukwe which reads as follows:
“We write on behalf of CONCERNED TRADERS OF EKEOHA SHOPPING CENTRE, ABA represented by Hon. Oriaku Ugochukwu, James Eze, Jona Anayogu and Chukwueke Nwokocha of Ekeoha Shopping Centre.
(1) Ekeoha Shopping Centre, Aba, is a Shopping Complex envisioned, designed and constructed in blocks of bungalow stores with open space, walkways, fire station, banking hall, car parks, emergency exit points for human and vehicular movements at all relevant periods and even in cases of fire outbreak. Unfortunately, and sadly, all the aforementioned facilities have been converted into market stalls on the authorization of the Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Rt Hon.Cosmos Ndukwe with the connivance of the current Chairman of Ekeoha Shopping Centre Traders Association, one Mr. Friday Dimiri.
(2) While it is bad that the Commissioner for Trade and Investment authorized the conversion of such facilities like car park, fire station, driveway, emergency exit ways, and some walkways with the market, it is inquitous, tended to cause mass death of traders and their customers for the said Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Rt Hon. Cosmos Ndukwe, to approve and allocate for construction, two floors of Lock Up Stalls on top of the originally designed and built bungalow blocks of stalls in the said market without the matching beams, pillars, rods and decks, thereby creating three levels of stalls in the said market which was originally designed and constructed as one level block of stalls.
(3) it is interesting to note that the said Commissioner for Trade and Investment and his Ekeoha Shopping Centre Traders Association Chairman, Mt Friday Dimiri, were able to achieve this wicked act of turning “EKEOHA SHOPPING CENTRE ” into a death trap with the aid of their security men whom they recruited from the existing Abia State Vigilante Services in amanner likened to that of NAPOLEON in “Animal Farm”. The duo also suppress every opposing view at Ekeoha Shopping Centre with the aid of the recruited security men from the Abia State Vigilante Service.
(4) The sins of the said Hon Cosmos Ndukwe and Mr Friday Dimiri are many, indeed, they are legion. These two persons negotiated with the Independent Power Plant Station (Called Ekeoha Power Station), disconnected all stalls in the said market from linkage to EEDC electricity supply and imposed an Independent Power Plant Station on the Traders with very high billing rate collected by them on a daily basis; so much so that the majority of the traders who cannot afford the usage of the independent power plant are not connected to it, yet, are not permitted to connect to EEDC electricity supply thereby throwing the Shopping Centre into deep darkness also as a result of stalls built on the open spaces through which sun rays would have permeated to the walkways into the market.
(5) The said Commissioner for Trade and Investment with his Ekeoha Shopping Centre Traders Association Chairman, Mr Friday Dimiri, unilaterally imposed a high rate stallage and other fees per each stall, by making an increase from Five Thousand Naira to Eight Thousand Naira. When the traders protested, the said Commissioner promised that 10% of the said stallage fees would be remitted back to the traders for maintenance of the market. Regrettably, since 2019 when this regime of fees started under Hon Cosmos Ndukwe, the said Commissioner has neither remitted the said 10% to the traders nor carried out any maintenance work in the market but has also shared proceeds of this 10% with the said Chairman of the Traders Association.
(6) As a result of these mean and wicked acts of Hon. Cosmos Ndukwe and Mr Friday Dimiri, the Shopping Centre is now faced with the following dire predicaments:
(I) Darkness now envelopes the stalls in the said Shopping Centre
(ii) Availability of network for easy communication has become a scarce commodity as air waves have been blocked by the compact nature of the stalls
(iii) In the event of any fire outbreak, firefighters can no longer drive their vehicle into the market to quench the fire
(iv) It has become a daily occurrence to see decked floors in the said Shopping Centre collapse, injuring traders, their customers, and damaging their goods. As a tip, on the 17th of August, 2020, a wing of stalls at Zone 11 of the said Shopping Centre collapsed and caused heavy panic among traders and all those present there then. Other examples abound, Ekeoha Shopping Centre is now a case of One Week, One Collapse of either a stall or wing of stalls.
(8) Ekeoha Shopping Centre was envisioned and built to avert disaster that befell Igbo Traders in 1976 when the Famous Ekeoha market was gutted by fire. Unfortunately today, the dreams of our fathers who envisioned the Shopping Centre and built it as the pride of Aba have been killed on the altar of extortion, greedy acquisition of filthy lucre on the blood of the innocents.
(8) In the circumstances of our Petition, our clients pray the Abia State House of Assembly for the following reliefs namely:
(a) Setting up of an Ad Hoc Commitee of the Abia State House of Assembly made up of men and women with fear of God, respect for humanity and desire for truth to Investigate the contents of our allegations above by hearing from the traders and coming to the said Shopping Centre to see things for themselves.
(b) Suspension of the Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Hon. Cosmos Ndukwe and the Chairman of Ekeoha Shopping Centre Traders Association, Mr Friday Dimiri, pending the completion of investigation by the Ad Hoc Committee to allow traders volunteer information to the said Committee without fear of intimidation from the said Commissioner and the Chairman of Ekeoha Shopping Centre Traders Association by themselves or through their hired men.
The Chairman of the House of Assembly Committee on Public Petitions, Barr Emeka Okoroafor, with the kind permission of the Speaker, laid the petition before the House.
The Speaker, Rt. Hon. Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji, committed the petitions as follows:
The petition written by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ABSU Chapter, was referred to the House Committee on Education.
The Petition Written against the Traditional Ruler of Okporoenyi Community in Bende Local Government Area was referred to the House Committee of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.
The Petition written by a legal practitioner on behalf of traders at Ekeoha Shopping Centre against the Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Hon Cosmos Ndukwe, and his accomplice, the Speaker referred the Petition to an Ad Hoc Commitee made up of the following:
(1) Hon Munachim Alozie – Chairman.
(2) Hon. Jerry Uzosike
(3) Hon Abraham Oba
(4) Hon Solomon Akpulonu
(5) Hon Obinna Ichita
(6) Hon Paul Tharibo.
MATTER OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
The Deputy Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly, Rt.Hon Ifeanyi Uchendu, brought a Matter of Urgent Public Importance titled.
“Save Our Soul: the Deady and Unsafe Condition of Mgbiri Bridge that Connects Ohafia and Arochukwu Local Government Areas”.
He prayed the House to mandate the State Commissioner for Works to visit the bridge and carry out urgent remedial work on It.
After contributions from Lawmakers, the House resolved as follows:
(1) To mandate the Commissioner for Works to visit the bridge so as to carry out remedial work on it.
(2) To reach out to the Member of the House of Representatives and Senator Representing the area to bring to the attention of the Federal Government the unsafe state of the bridge.
Hon Chukwu Chijioke, and Hon Aaron Uzodike respectively thanked Members of the Abia State House of Assembly for honouring their invitation and celebrating their birthday with them yesterday.
NOTICE OF PRESENTATION OF BILLS:
(1) H.A.B 25: The Abia State Debt Management Office Bill, 2020 ( A Bill For a Law to Establish the Abia Debt Management Office and for other Matters Connected thereto) sponsored by the Majority Leader, Hon.Barr Solomon Akpulonu.
With the Motion of the Majority Leader which was seconded by the Minority Leader, the House passed the Bill into First Reading.
(2) H.A.B 26: The Abia Tax (Codification and Consolidation) Bill, 2020 ( A Bill For a Law to Repeal the Abia State Board of Internal Revenue Law No. 7 of 2008 (Together with Amendments) and other Revenue Laws and to enact the Abia State Tax (Codification and Consolidation) Law, and for other Matters related thereto) sponsored by the Majority Leader Hon. Solomon Akpulonu.
The House Passed the Bill into First Reading after its presentation.
With the Motion of the Majority Leader, which was seconded by the Minority Leader Hon.Abraham Oba, the House deferred other items on the Order Paper to undertake the Second Reading of H.A.Bs 25 and 26.
Leading the debate for H.A.B 25, the Leader said the Bill seeks to make transparency of all loans collected by the Government possible.
“This Bill is to make for efficient and transparency of their role, and also it will make this Office to have a reliable database of all loans collected by the State Government”, he said.
He called on his collesgues to support the Bill.
After contributions from Lawmakers, the Speaker committed the Bill into the House Committee of the Whole.
The Majority Leader in leading the debate on H.A.B 26, Hon. Barr Akpulonu said the Bill if passed into Law will assemble all the revenue generating agencies of Government for optimal delivery.
“It is based on what the World Bank calls ‘Safe Tax
“This Bill will also strengthen the Abia State Board of Internal Revenue”, he said.
He therefore called for the support of his Honourable Colleagues to give the Bill accelerated considerstion and passage.
After contributions by Lawmakers, the Speaker committed the Bill into the House Commitee of the Whole for further legislative action.
The House dissolved into Commitee of the Whole and considered the two Bills.
The House considered the two bills Clause by Caluse at the level of the Commitee of the Whole.
With the Motion of the Majority Leader, Hon. Solomon Akpulonu, which was seconded by the Minority Leader, Hon. Sir Abraham Oba, the House reverted back to full Plenary.
After reporting progress of what happened at the Commitee stage by the Speaker of the House, the Majority Leader, Hon Solomon Akpulonu, moved for the further amendment of the Order Paper to accommodate the Third Reading of H.A.B 25 and H.A.B 26.
The House subsequently commenced processes for the 3rd Reading of the Bills.
“Honourable Colleagues this is the time to cross the T’s and dot the I’s” the Speaker started.
The House then passed H.A.B 25: The Abia State Debt Management Office Bill, 2020, and H.A.B 26:The Abia Stste Tax (Codification and Consolidation) Bill 2020, into Law.
With the motion of the Leader, which was seconded by the Minority Leader, the House adjourned plenary to resume on Monday, 21st September, 2020.
*Courtesy: Media Unit, Office of the Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly*