Despite pleas by eminent personalities that the Abia State House of Assembly should be opened for the people and media to observe and cover its proceedings, the House has continued to operate like a cult, as if it is viciously in secret path with Gestapo, the official secret police of Nazi Germany.
Very little is heard or known about the 7th Assembly, lately notorious for not sitting and conducting the business of a second tier arm of government and also discharging other responsibilities constitutionally assigned to it since the beginning of 2020.
The Speaker of the 24-Assembly, Hon Chinedum Orji is seen to have run the House in a manner that deprives many Abia residents nay Nigerians the gravy from the legislature. Neither the media nor the constituents of the lawmakers are allowed to visit them or watch the proceedings of the plenary from the gallery.
Policemen and thugs stop people from entering the door leading to the gallery, citing various reasons. Investigations by this reporter show that the House is grossly under reported as Chinedum Orji and his colleagues bask in the dark side of the news. The staff and other workers operate in fears and speak in low tunes for fear of being hounded.
However, as reports of the clandestine activities of the Assembly since the current Speaker took the leadership of the House in June 2019 become vexatious in many quarters and continue to attract lashes from the public, the Chairman, Media/Publicity Hon Ifeanyi Uchendu directed that the press gallery be opened for the media/press to cover proceedings. This was not adhered to.
Uchendu, who is also the Deputy Speaker of the House, also asked the Media team of the House to open a one-room office for the press. “Nothing is in that office except old and dilapidated chairs and a table”, said one reporter.
“Anybody working in the place should be ready to share every available space with rats and cockroaches. It’s a shame that Chindeum Orji would run an important institution such as a State House of Assembly like Gestapo.
“Is that how he wants to run for the governorship or Ikwuano/Umuahia federal seat in 2023 as he’s smarting currently? The reporter asked, adding that during the presentation of the 2020/23 budget by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, camera-journalists were prevented from entering the chamber and gallery while reporters were thoroughly frisked before they were allowed into the gallery.
At a point, one of media team in the House had to angrily walk back to his office, wondering why the House authorities have shied away from publicity even in a high profile event like the presentation of the budget by the governor of the state.
“What are they hiding?” Our source wondered; even as the source accused the members of unduly shying away from publicity as if they have serious things to hide.
“They rarely come to the assembly premises. However, whenever you see them, they’re there to hold executive session. The few times they hold their plenary, it is always on camera, thereafter, they issued a drab press release to the Online people and disappear”, a staff told this reporter.
Chinedum Orji is the son of Senator Theodore Orji, representing Abia Central in the Senate.
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.