- Accuses Governor Alia of Staging Coup Against LG Chairmen
By Amos Aar
THE Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Benue State has raised alarm that the suspension of the 23 local government chairmen and councilors in the state by Governor Hyacinth Alia’s administration will throw Benue into anarchy.
Governor Alia had sent a letter to the State Assembly on Tuesday, June 20, 2023, asking it to probe alleged mismanagement of funds by all 23 state’s council chairmen, and in less than 24 hours into the investigation by a 3-person committee, the House recommended that the governor should suspend the chairmen over financial misappropriation and appoint caretaker chairmen.
But PDP, in statement signed by its Publicity Secretary, Bemgba Iortyom, on Thursday described the suspension as a manifestation of impunity and contempt of a court order, which the party claimed prevented the governor from taking any action that would tamper with the tenure of the state’s council chairmen who were all elected on the PDP platform, and remained members of the party.
The PDP called on Benue State Commissioner of Police not to enforce the governor’s directive to Directors, General Services and Administration (DGSAs) of all local government councils to take over from the ousted chairmen.
Bemgba said any breakdown of law and order in the various local government areas in the state as a result of the suspension should be blamed on Governor Alia.
“Governor Alia had made vociferous promises during the campaigns to grant autonomy to the local government councils, but just days after his assumption of office, we see him acting to the contrary as his present actions at that tier of administration is purely suggestive he is in a hurry to hand over the councils to his cronies as part of the booty which has come to them from the 2023 elections.
“The Commissioner of Police, Benue State Police Command, should steer clear and not be complicit in the coup d’etat which Governor Alia and his puppets in the Benue State House of Assembly are seeking to execute at the third tier of government in the state.
“Benue people should hold Governor Alia and the leadership of the Benue State House of Assembly responsible for any breakdown of law and order in the various local government areas of the state resulting from the illegality being perpetrated against the local government council administrations which were duly elected and sworn into office with a definite tenure of mandate”, the statement read in part.
Governor not yet informed of suspension
However, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Sir Tersoo Kula, while addressing journalists on the sideline of a state security council meeting at Government House, Makurdi on Thursday said, Governor Hyacinth Alia was yet to receive official communication from the State Assembly on the recommended suspension of chairmen and councilors across the state.
“For the last time I checked, there was no formal communication yet on the table of His Excellency in respect to that. Once the communication comes, His Excellency will meet with his team and a decision may be taken in that regard”, Kula said.
Asked what was the implication of the statement that the governor was yet to receive official communication from the assembly, whether the suspension would not be implemented until the information reached the governor’s table even as the state lawmakers stated in the recommendation that it should be done with immediate effect, the CPS simply maintained: “Like I said, His Excellency is yet to receive official communication to that regard and that’s all I have to say for now”.
When contacted in a chat via Facebook to know whether the suspension took effect on Thursday and whether the embattled chairmen handed over to the DGSAs despite the fact that Governor Alia was yet to approve the recommendation, a Councilor from Konshisha local government who pleaded anonymity told National Record that the suspension was not effected on Thursday.
He however hinted that the DGSA of Buruku local government was calling the legislators to submit the legislative bus in their custody.
The councilor who further disclosed that the 23 council chairmen again approached a court in Makurdi on Thursday to challenge their recommended suspension added that, they, the councilors, were also planning to drag Alia’s government to court because they did not connive with the chairmen to mismanage funds as alleged in the assembly’s report.
“Though rumour has it that they have again headed to court today after series of meetings in Makurdi town; we may as well approach the court because we have not connived with the executive for misappropriation of funds. We have not approved any document as well as signed any project execution”, he added.