Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
The two factions of the Benue State House of Assembly, on Monday, engaged in supremacy war as both sat at different locations to commence an impeachment process against Governor Samuel Ortom and suspend Assembly members.
Recall that only last Tuesday, 22 members of the Assembly who had earlier on Friday impeached Speaker Terkimbi Ikyange and installed Titus Uba of Kyaan Constituency as new Speaker, also moved a motion for his (Ikyange) suspension for six months.
However, the impeached Ikyange, who had continued to insist that he is still the Speaker, was said to have mobilised seven other All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmakers, on Monday morning, to the chamber of the Assembly amid tight security to commence an impeachment process on Governor Samuel Ortom.
The Ikaynge-led faction was also said to have suspended 15 members of the Uba-led faction for what it termed gross ‘illegality’.
However, the Uba-led faction, at an emergency seating at the old Banquet Hall of the Government House, in turn, suspended the seven lawmakers who attended the said sitting with the impeached Speaker.
The motion for their suspension was moved by the Majority Leader of the House, Avine Gbom (Makurdi North) and was seconded by Iana Jato of Katsina-Ala East State Constituency.
Other members of the Assembly including the Deputy Speaker, Egli Ahubi (Otukpo/Akpa), Joseph Ojobo (Ogbadibo), Kester Kyenge (Logo), insisted that what the Ikyange’s faction did was illegal as they did not form quorum to deliberate on such matter.
They maintained that a quorum, which is two-third of the Assembly, should be 10 lawmakers and wondered why only eight members would claim that they had formed a quorum and take such decision.
The lawmakers wondered how a group of only eight of 30 members would claim they sat without the Clerk of the House, his deputy and the Mace to take any decision.
Ikyange, in a chat with newsmen shortly after leaving the premises of the state Assembly, said about 12 members of the Assembly sat to commence impeachment process against the state governor over alleged embezzlement of local funds to the tune of N33 billion, non-performance and other sundry issues.
But only last week, the state High Court, presided over by the Chief Judge of Benue, Justice Adam Onum, restrained the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and the Majority Leader from parading themselves as principal officers of the Assembly, pending the determination of a motion brought before the court.
The court also restrained the Ikyange’s group from sealing the premises of the Assembly where the Uba group carried out their legislative functions or in any manner, howsoever, interfering with the functions of the applicant pending the hearing and determination of a Motion on Notice brought before it.
The Daily Sun gathered that on getting wind of a planned move to impeach the governor, some youths were said to have besieged the Assembly as early as 5:00a.m. apparently to prevent the move.
The development led to armed security operatives, allegedly with the support of the Federal Government, with armored tank storming the area to cordon off the area to pave way for the Ikyange led faction hold their plenary.
But in a swift reaction, Governor Ortom described his alleged move for his impeachment as ‘laughable and illegal’, while vowing to employ all legal means to tackle the anomaly.
The governor described the development as impunity of the highest order, Ortom lamented the heavy deployment of policemen and DSS acting on the directive of the Inspector General of Police and Director General of DSS with the active connivance of Sen. George Akume to forcibly gain entrance into the chambers of the Assembly to carry out illegality.