An Imo State High Court has quashed the purported impeachment of former Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon Goodluck Nannah Opiah; his Deputy, Hon. Jonas Okeke, principal officers and the suspension of some members. In a landmark judgment delivered recently, the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Ben Njamanze, said the impeachment exercise was illegal, null and void as it did not follow due process. He ruled that the purported impeachment was a breach of the 1999 constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) as well as the rules of Imo state house of Assembly. Justice Njamanze said the plaintiffs were not also given fair hearing as the Onuora Olumba Committee set up by the few members of the House, who carried out the impeachment exercise, did not invite the former speaker and the others for their own side of the story before purportedly impeaching them. He berated the defendants, namely Hon. Amechi Nwaoha, who was purportedly elected speaker to replace Opiah and the eleven other members, who though were the minority out of a 27-member house, went ahead to carry out an action that was unconstitutional and illegal. Justice Njamanze consequently awarded N50,000 costs against the defendants to be paid to the plaintiffs even as he ordered that all their entitlements be paid by the state government. Opiah and the other plaintiffs had headed to the court to challenge the action of 12 out of 27 members of the house who, aided by the new state government of Rochas Okorocha, broke into the chambers and carried out the impeachment and suspension actions on May 31, 2011, four days to the end of the tenure of the house before the present one. Observers believe that the Okorocha government, which came under the banner of APGA but not APC, used the few members to spite PDP leaders and the proceeding PDP government of the state.
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