The Imo State House of Assembly has declared the seat for Ngor Okpala Constituency, vacant.
This was announced on Thursday during a plenary by Speaker Kennedy Ibeh, following a motion filed by members of the House Johnson Duru, representing Ideato South, and Chigozie Nwaneri, Oru East.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Duru had pointed out that the lawmaker representing Ngor Okpala, Tochi Okereke, had been absent from House proceedings consistently, which was a violation of the 1999 Constitution.
An examination of Okereke’s attendance records showed that he had only attended plenary 43 times since the inauguration of the Ninth Assembly.
The House, therefore, agreed that since he had been absent for more than one-thirds of the sitting period in a year, the seat would be declared vacant.
Ibeh noted that the lawmaker had failed to live up to the requirement of his office as his continued absence “was without any just cause and should not be allowed to continue.”
He ordered that a bye-election be conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to fill the vacant seat within the next 90 days.
Three other lawmakers were also suspended during plenary for failing to participate in legislative activities on the 2022 budget proposal.
The suspended lawmakers were: Authur Eguim, representing Ideato North; Ngozi Obiefule, Isu; and Obinna Okwara, Nkwerre.
In July, six lawmakers had been suspended from the Imo House of Assembly by the former Speaker Paul Emeziem, who said they had conducted themselves in an ‘unparliamentary’ manner.
The affected lawmakers included: the current Speaker, Ibeh; Uche Ogbuagu, representing Ikeduru; Anyadike Nwosu, Ezinihitte Mbaise; Onyemaechi Njoku, Ihitte Uboma; Philip Ejiogu, Owerri North; and Dominic Ezerioha, Oru West.
Their suspension had led to a commotion in the House, as gunshots had followed the announcement, leaving several lawmakers scampering for safety.
Emeziem had recalled them a week before his impeachment in November, stating that they had repented.