A factional group led by the impeached Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly, Terkibir Ikyange, commenced impeachment proceedings against Governor Samuel Ortom, alleging fraudulent activities, non payment of workers’ salaries and non performance as reasons.
The members, numbering 12, were said to have moved into the Assembly complex amidst tight security around 6am.
It was gathered that the session lasted for about one hour in which the members also left outthe 15 members of the group loyal to the governor.
The group loyal to Governor Ortom, led by the new Speaker, Titus Uba, claimed to have 22 members, while it said that the other group loyal to Senator George Akume have eight members.
However, Ikyange said that 12 lawmakers on Monday met and took the decision to commence impeachment processed against the governor.
He noted that the group had got an order from the court directing banks to release to them the details of accounts allegedly opened for some workers but which were allegedly used to siphon money.
Addressing journalists at his official residence at Commissioner’s Quarters along Otukpo Road, Ikyange said that 12 members sat to review the political development in the state and subsequently took a decisive decision.
“Two decisions were taken: one, the members looked at action of some members who invaded the House of Assembly, causing unrest in the state.”
“The conduct is not acceptable; we have sent the 15 members on six-month suspension.”
“Another item was the motion brought by the Majority Leader of the House to give a notice of impeachment, stating the offences the governor has committed in the past three years.”
“We looked at it and saw that it had merit. The House found N50m fraud in each of the 23 local governments, running into N33bn in the past three years.”
“Also, the non payment of salaries of seven months to state workers, 11 months’ salaries being owed local government workers and pensioners up to 15 months, as well as non performance which has affected the economy of the state,” Ikyange said.
When asked whether the members formed a quorum, Ikyange said that 12 members sat for the proceedings.
Following this, in a swift response, the group loyal to Governor Ortom which held its own plenary session at the Banquet Hall of the Government House, Makurdi, also suspended the other members who held session with the impeached Speaker.
The group said that, contrary to Ikyange’s claim, only seven lawmakers were present at the meeting.
Hon. Paul Biam, the ‘majority leader’ of the G-22, described the sitting by Ikyange-led group as “illegal,” saying that the Titus Uba group had also secured court injunction restraining the impeached Speaker from parading himself as Speaker.
“In spite of the injunction restraining the former Speaker from parading himself as Speaker of the eighth (Benue State House of ) Assembly, this morning, as we approached the Assembly, we found security men armed to teeth with armoured vehicle who refused us entry.”
“We learnt that seven members, including the suspended Speaker and without the mace, sat without forming a quorum.”
“We have, however, suspended the seven members,” Biam said.
When asked why the members at Monday sitting were 18 instead of 22 as claimed, the ‘G-22 majority leader’ said that four members had gone to Abuja to honor the invitation of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.