John Ameh, Olalekan Adetayo, Leke Baiyewu and John Charles
Heavily-armed security operatives on Tuesday chased the Clerk of the Benue State House of Assembly, Dr Toryese Angenor, and other officials of the Assembly out of office.
Angenor told journalists in Makurdi that he, alongside others, was ordered out of office by security men, two hours after he resumed for duty on Tuesday.
The clerk said, “As l talk to you now, the police officers are still there and you can’t see any (members of) staff in the Assembly complex because l was chased out of my office.
“They told us that the Commissioner of Police had ordered them to tell us to leave the complex. No reason was given and no definite time was given to us to come back.
“The implication of this is that we were not allowed to do our job and that is going to impede the work of the legislature and it is going to affect all the people of Benue.
“We are calling on the Commander-in-Chief to direct the IGP to tell the Commissioner of Police, Benue State Command to withdraw his men from the premises of the Benue State House of Assembly so that staff can do their work unhindered.”
The security adviser to the governor, Col. Paul Hemba, corroborated the account given by the clerk.
He said, “I got the information about the chasing away of civil servants and l called the Commissioner of Police. I spoke with him awhile ago and he confirmed it.
When one of our correspondents visited the Assembly complex located behind Government House, stern-looking policemen were seen, stationed at the road leading to the Assembly complex.
Efforts to get the new Commissioner of Police, Gwana Bensan, to react to the development were not successful as his phone did not go through.
Meanwhile, a former Senate President, David Mark, and a former governor of Kano State, Rabi’u Kwankwaso, have faulted the move by minority members of the Benue State House of Assembly to remove Governor Samuel Ortom from office.
The lawmakers’ move was equally condemned by senators Ben Murray-Bruce and Shehu Sani.
Leave Buhari out of Benue crisis – APC caucus
However, the APC caucus in the House of Representatives on Tuesday morning, told its PDP counterpart to leave President Muhammadu Buhari out of the unfolding political crisis in Benue State.
The PDP caucus had on Monday blamed the political crisis in Benue State on the “desperation” of the Buhari-led APC government to retain power at all costs in 2019.
The PDP caucus, at a news briefing addressed by the Deputy House Minority Leader, Mr Chukwuka Onyema, called on Buhari to intervene in the Benue case, otherwise, the lawmakers would ensure that none of his requests to the House was approved.
But, on Tuesday, the APC said much as the action of the eight Benue lawmakers, who served impeachment notice on Ortom, would not pass the constitutional test, it did not believe that Buhari should be blamed for their action.
The Majority Leader of the House, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, who responded on behalf of the caucus, said, “Whilst the purported impeachment of the Benue State Speaker by eight members cannot pass the smell test under the constitution, we find it strange and hyperbolic that the PDP caucus in the House, in a knee-jerk reaction, will try to tie the President to same.
“In tandem with our party, the PDP has been screaming restructuring and federalism to high heavens and one wonders why the same party will now blame the activities of an independent state Assembly on Mr President.
“As for the police the matter, (it) is serious enough and one would expect the PDP members to immediately push for the reconvening of the House so as to probe the exact role played by the police. In legislative work, there are procedures to be followed.”
Buhari’ll never be part of any unconstitutional act – Presidency
Also, the Presidency on Tuesday said there was no truth in the claims that Buhari had a hand in the move by minority members of the Benue State House of Assembly to remove Ortom.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said this in a statement made available to journalists.
Adesina said Buhari would never be part of any unconstitutional act.
He added that any attempt to link the President with the inglorious past, when minority number of lawmakers removed governors, would not stick.
He said, “Even while attending the ECOWAS/ECCAS Summit in Togo, strident attempts were being made to drag President Muhammadu Buhari into the unfolding drama between the executive and the legislature in Benue State.
“Statements have been issued by different interest groups, insinuating that the President may have a hand in the development in Benue.
“This is paranoia at its worst, coming from people who have wittingly positioned themselves against the clean-up of the country, and the way we do things. They prefer business as usual.
“President Buhari will never be part of any unconstitutional act, and any attempt to link him with the inglorious past, when minority number of lawmakers impeached governors, will not stick. It will simply be like water off a duck’s back.”
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