…Over face-off with lawmakers
From TONY JOHN, Prot Harcourt
The Rivers State Commissioner for Education, Dame Alice Lawrence-Nemi risks arrest, following her refusal to honour an invitation by members of the state House of Assembly, who, on Tuesday, ordered her to appear before the lawmakers yesterday.
Dame Lawrence-Nemi was supposed to appear before the lawmakers to answer questions bordering on the alleged usurpation of powers and functions of the boards of the Universal Basic Education and the Senior Secondary Schools by her ministry, in respect of ongoing 13,000 teachers’ recruitment exercise in the state. Also, the legislators directed that the recruitment exercise be suspended indefinitely. Her absence, which the legislators described as a slight on their integrity, incurred the wrath of the members, as they wanted a warrant of arrest be issued on her without further invitation.
At the resumption of the day’s proceedings, Leader of the House, Chidi Lloyd, representing Emuoha Constituency, said it was an anomaly for a commissioner screened and approved by them to shun their invitation. Lloyd urged the House to give her another chance, failure of which the state Commissioner of Police would be directed to arrest her.
Most of the lawmakers, including Anderson Miller, Robinson Ewor, Ibani Ikunyo and Golden Chioma, who spoke on the disrespect from the commissioner, wanted the warrant of arrest be issued instantly, without giving her another opportunity. In his ruling, Speaker, Otelemaba Dan-Amachree, frowned at the commissioner’s behaviour, saying he had not witnessed that a commissioner could disobey an order from the House, for his about 10 years as a lawmaker.
The speaker directed the Clerk of the House to write her, the permanent secretary and directors of administration and finance, in their personal capacities, to appear today by 10:00a.m. Dan-Amachree threatened that if the commissioner failed to appear in person, he would invoke powers vested on him by relevant sections of the 1999 Constitution and arrest her.
During Tuesday’s sitting, the education commissioner was summoned following a motion moved on the floor of the House by the lawmaker representing Ahoada-East Constituency 1, Ibiso Nwuche and co-sponsored by members of committee on education.
The lawmakers, in the motion, stated that the powers and functions allotted by law to the boards of the UBE and Senior Secondary Schools had been taken over by the ministry with regard to the recruitment of both the academic and non-academic staff in the primary and secondary schools in the state.