I have also met many people in the state, who were as surprised and disenchanted as myself, over the ignorance, greed and insensitivity exhibited by a former member of the House of Assembly.

The surprise and shock came from my realization of the fact, once again, that inordinate quest for money and greed can influence people to act foolishly and that ungrateful people never really change from whom that are.

According to Walter Uzonwanne, who was sworn-in, three months to the expiration of the 7th House, led by Rt. Hon Benjamin Uwajumogu, due to the protracted electoral context and legal tussle for the Uguta State Assembly sit, between him (Uzonwanne) and Hon Eugene Dibiagwu, whom he sacked through the court, he should be paid a whopping sum of 200,000,000 naira, as his complete salary for 4 years, his allowances for 4 years and emoluments.

But in practical terms, it is immoral for Uzonwanne to lay such dubious claims or even petition the ICPC or any other agency, alleging diversions of funds due to him or non-payment of allowances and emoluments , considering the financial realities that is well understood by the people of the state and the fact that none of the 27 former law makers, who even served for 4 years, has been paid their emoluments and allowances, unless he does not understand the difference between perception and reality of what is obtainable in public service.

For me, what amazes me is how people who claims to be aware, out of greed, subject themselves to ignominable acts that questions there level of education, mental capacity, morality, integrity and character. Even if there is disagreement between Uzonwanne and his benefactors who help him in getting to the point of becoming a member of the Assembly in the first place, there are dignified and responsible ways of resolving it, it should not be used as a tool for unwarranted attack, petitions and misrepresentations in the media, where morality and civility are thrown to the dogs. Such irresponsibility diminishes the attacker more than it does to the victim.

Even though, the make money at all cost, dubious and criminal antecedents of Walter Uzonwanne, is well known, which could be verified in his alleged involvement in the kidnap and murder of a hotelier, Emeka Asiemena, and also his liking for cheap money, in which he exhibited by swindling his opponent of 10m naira in agreement that he will step down for him and never did, conforms and reaffirms his penchant for illicit money making ventures and lack of respect for human life and dignity. He cannot deny, that he is unaware that none of his colleagues, including the Speaker, has received their emoluments and allowances for the month of March, April and May and yet he joined the Speaker in his petition.

While Hon Uzonwanne, cannot also fane ignorance of the fact, that the leadership of the Assembly is under obligation to the 1999 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria (as amended) to ratify the payment of salaries and allowances to Honorable Members who are lawfully sworn in, after they must have produced for perusal and documentation, their INEC certificate of return. And also that it is the prerogative of the House leadership to authorize distribution of allowances for committee work, based on duties assigned to committees and availability of funds.

It was gathered that Hon Uzonwanne who pretends to be unmindful or ignorant of the fact that the constitution bars him from parading himself as an elected lawmaker due to his inability to present a valid INEC certificate of return, is not only demanding that 3 months’ salary arrears, allowances and emoluments to be paid to him regarding when he was sworn in as a member of the House, but is asking and blackmailing the former leadership of the House to pay him salary arrears and allowances starting from 2011, when the last House took-off, which was duly paid to his predecessor, Hon Eugene Dibiagwu before his election was nullified.

It will be recalled, that apart from the inability of the electoral body INEC, to conclude the Oguta re-run Election before the expiration of the 7th Assembly, the media was awash with stories of how Hon Uzonwanne, who do not possess the INEC certificate of return, which is the major constitutional requirement for swearing in, of a member of the legislature, deceived the House by compelling it to swear him in with an alleged fraudulent court order, amidst protest by his constituents alleging illegality.

Shortly after he was sworn in, his strongest contender in the Oguta Assembly seat context, Eugene Dibiagwu and other constituents flooded the House of Assembly with series of petitions, alleging that the court that gave the orders for Walter Uzonwanne to be sworn in by the leadership of the House, lacks the jurisdiction to do so, and that the Oguta re-run election was still inclusive at the time he was sworn in. But regardless of who to blame or not to blame about Walter Uzonwanne’s swearing in with an alleged fraudulent court order procured and submitted to the leadership of the House by Uzonwanne. The fact remains that it is a criminal offence that should be probed by relevant authorities.

It is this same criminal mentality exhibited by some of our politicians that has depleted the state’s treasury and has indeed portrayed some of our politicians as fraudsters, if not, how could a politician who has only spent 3 months in the chambers of the state legislature, allocate to himself a whopping sum of 200,000,000 naira, an amount members, who served for 4 years, in relevant committees could not acquire in 4 years, and expect the state treasury to be emptied, because he has petitioned the EFCC and ICPC or has gone to gullible media Houses to blackmail well-meaning people.

Also, owing to the discretional powers of the House leadership to allocate funds to committees, based on availability of funds and functionality of committees, one, could be tempted to ask Hon. Walter Uzonwanne, how he arrived at the huge sum, which he is passionately demanding for, or if he still thinks that at this age and times, allowances are constant. He cannot also deny that he is unaware that he sacked Hon Dibiagwu, who has already received part of the salaries and allowances he is blackmailing his benefactors for.

It baffles me that Uzonwanne, who is well acquainted with the current happenings in the state, vis-à-vis the non-payment of statutory emolument and 3 months allowances to 7th House, will turn around, out of mischief, to accuse and blackmail the former Speaker, Rt. Hon Benjamin Uwajumogu, who is equally owed alongside others, of involvement in his yet to be paid allowances and emoluments, by the state government.

For me, I detest the current trend, where Newspaper Houses are used as glorified messengers by mischief makers who can afford the bill of destructive stories, even if it offends the sensibilities of the public or damages the character of innocent people.

Professionalism and investigative journalism sacrificed on the altar of greed and hustling for food. Moreover, experience has thought us that it is not incumbent on people who petitions the ICPC and EFCC to win such cases, as writing petition is one thing while proving and defending it is another.

Investigations has revealed that Hon.Uzonwanne’s has already received three months’ salary since his swearing on March 2015, after having worked for the total period of 3 months as a lawmaker, and will be paid allowances, entitlements and emoluments, as every documentation has already been perfected by Assembly Accounts Department for onward payment as soon as the state government releases money for payment.

It was further revealed that it was due to non-availability of the House running cost for the month of March, April and May, owing to the prevailing economic and financial crisis ravaging the state that attributed to the inability of the members of the 7th House of the Imo State House of Assembly, including Hon Uzonwanne who was sworn at the peak of the financial crises, from accessing their 3 months allowances and emoluments as the case may be.

Although the situation was more intense for Hon. Walter Uzonwanne, who was so unlucky that his swearing in as a member of the House, coincided with the prevailing financial crises that is still ravaging the state, but it is regrettable and too early for Walter Uzonwanne, to manifest his character of treachery and gluttony by blackmailing, demonizing and demystifying the former leadership of the Imo State House of Assembly, when he is well aware that the matter is beyond them, as they don’t have control over the treasury of the state.

Source: Okey Mba


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