Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
The peace of Gboko and Adikpo, headquarters of Gboko and Kwande local government areas of Benue State was on Tuesday disturbed following protests by some youths over the suspension of the council chairmen.
On Monday evening, the state House of Assembly approved the suspension of six chairmen and two vice chairmen of local government councils in the state for three months over alleged gross misconduct, misappropriation of funds and abuse of office.
Following the suspension of the council bosses, the state governor on Tuesday conducted a swearing-in ceremony of acting council chairmen with a charge on them to desist from sharing funds meant for development to their political elders.
While the swearing-in ceremony was going on at the Government House in Makurdi, news filtered in that angry youths suspected to be supporters of one the suspended chairmen went on the rampage.
In the chaos, some houses including the residence of the Executive Chairman of Benue Internal Revenue Service (BIRS) Terzungwe Atser, vehicles, motorcycles, shops,billboards and PDP campaign materials were allegedly vandalised while some persons were allegedly injured in the fracas that ensued.
Our correspondent gathered that shops, especially those around the J S Tarka Way in Gboko quickly closed for business while parents who had initially dropped off their wards in school rushed back to pick them.
Soon, bonfires were set on major roads while youths comprising both males and females, boring placards and chanting songs poured into the streets, insisting that there would be no peace in Gboko unless the suspended council chairman was reinstated.
Our correspondent also gathered that about one hour after the Gboko protest, some youths in Adikpo town also allegedly protested the suspension of the council boss.
Reacting to the development, Governor Ortom who condemned the actions of the youths said his administration would not be deterred but would continue to do the right thing so long as it was in line with the law.
“All these things are planned but we will do the right thing whether there is rioting or not. We have to do what is right and we have done the right thing. Can you point out to me what we did which is wrong?
“If there is rioting, the security men are responsible for ensuring that there is law and order because the right thing has to be done. It is their game plan and everybody is aware.”
When contacted on his mobile phone, the Commissioner of Police, Omololu Bishi, told our correspondent to call him back. He later returned the call.
Asked about the protests in the two towns, the CP who said he was just arriving Benue from Abuja noted that he was yet to be briefed on the matter.
Meanwhile, Governor Ortom during the swearing-in ceremony told the newly-sworn in acting chairmen oflocal government councils that the era of sharing councils money to elders was now over, stressing that government money is meant to touch the lives of the people positively.
“Be prudent in handling the councils’ finances. Do not embezzle the councils’ funds. Money is not everything;do not be in a hurry to grab it. ‘If you do that you will get into trouble. The Bible says ‘money is the root of all evils.’ Wait patiently for God’s-appointed time for you to make genuine money and not ill-gotten wealth,” he said.
He charged Benue residents to shun violence now, during and after the forthcoming polls, urging them to go about their lawful businesses without fear and be ready to vote and defend their votes during the elections.