The Ebonyi State House of Assembly has ordered the immediate arrest and prosecution of Clement Odah, the Chairman of Ohaukwu Local Government Area, accused of assaulting one of its members Chinedu Onah at the committee room of the assembly complex in Nkaliki.
The incident reportedly occurred after four nominees Odah selected for management committee members and liaison officers were allegedly disqualified.
The local government chairman was accused of storming a room where house of assembly members were drilling Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDA) in the state on the budget presented by the state governor and slapping one of the committee members.
Recounting how the incident occurred, Deputy Chief Whip of the House, Benjamin Ezekomam said;
“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 walked out on him and started going inside the committee room.
“Chinedu Onah as an honourable member, moved in to the committee room and the chairman said ‘you small boy, you are interrupting me by stopping my nominee. I put you there’.
“Chinedu replied, ‘you didn’t put me there, my constituency put me here not you as a person’. He (the Chairman) said ‘is that what you said, is that what you said’ and he slapped him. We all were embarrassed, we didn’t know what to do, so the guy calmed himself down.”
Mr Onah who represents Ohaukwu south constituency in the assembly corroborated the claim. He said;
“Yes the local government chairman of Ohaukwu barged into the community room this morning where we were taking some MDA’s on their various budgets as was presented to the house and started shouting ‘this small boy, you 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 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 on 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 chairman you should have asked me if I did or not before accusing me, the next thing I heard was a very huge and dirty slap on my face for just doing nothing. But the only thing I did was not retaliating because I am an honorable member and the law should take its course. That was exactly what happened.
“The honourable 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 prosecuted and 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.”
Premium Times reported that Mr Odah denied slapping the House of Assembly member. 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 pleasantries with some of the honorable members, most of whom are my friends and colleagues.
“Yesterday the nominees for management committee members and liaison appeared in the house for screening. 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. I felt it was a ground to get some clarification so I inquired from him, Chinedu Onah to be precise.
“That was all. Then I moved in to interact with other honorable members where they were waiting for other members at the conference hall. It was not a sitting, not at all. I believed 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 you. I just proffered my little advice as my younger brother and your council chairman.
“When the argument was heated, 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 alien to me.”