“You don’t have power to remove us” – Sacked 23 LG Chairmen dare newly sworn in Governor
A fresh crisis has hit Benue State as the chairmen of the 23 Local Government Areas of Benue State have vowed never to comply with the directive issues by the state governor, Hyacinth Alia, over their suspension from office.
It will be recalled that the Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs (BLGCA) had on Friday, ordered the council chairmen to hand over baton to the most senior staff in their various councils.
BLGCA reportedly gave the order following the recommendation by the state’s House of Assembly to the state governor, which called for the suspension of the 23 LGAs chairmen in order to pave way for investigation into their financial activities.
But in a swift reaction at a press conference on Saturday, the chairmen said they would neither comply with the instruction from the state lawmakers or the BLGCA.
Mike Uba, Chairman of Association of Local Governments Of Nigeria (ALGON), Benue State chapter, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, said they would not surrender to “illegality” as doing so will mean a disservice to the state.
He said they were duly elected into office alongside their councillors on April 30, 2022 for a two years tenure which will constitutional come to an end by April 30, 2024.
“We state without the slightest modicum of ambiguity or prevarication that we do not recognise such purporting of our suspension from office from such quarters as are purporting it, neither do we consider ourselves under any obligation to give heed to same or comply with any directive as emanates from it.
“Our position derives a fundamental base from the incontrovertible fact of our offices being a creation of law as guaranteed under the supreme umbrella of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended in 1999) which recognises the tier of government we function at as the third in a tripod made up of the Federal, State and Local.
“We were elected as council chairmen on 30th April, 2022 in the local council elections conducted by the Benue State Independent Electoral Commission (BSIEC) and sworn into office on 29th June, 2022.
“We were not appointed into office but were elected by the electorate of Benue State and vested with a mandate which is guaranteed under law, with the procedure for the administration of the councils under our leadership clearly provided for under the Local Government Establishment Law of Benue State.
“It is, therefore, not known to us under such law, that we and the entirety of the government at our tier of it can be sacked in the manner as purported by the state Assembly and the Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.
“We equally defer to the judgement of the National Industrial Court holden in Makurdi which barred the government of Benue State at all levels from taking any action as seeks to temper with our lawfully recognised mandate as elected council chairmen. That judgement of court is still subsisting and we are not even aware that government appealed against it.
“However, we will not surrender to illegality and impunity as is being contrived against us. If we surrender to the unlawful purported suspension preferred against us, we will be doing a disservice to Benue State. In resisting the impunity, we are doing a duty to the state in line with our sworn oath to discharge the functions vested to our office for the good of the people,” Uba stated.
The chairman added that as Chief Security Officers of the 23 local government areas of Benue and leaders in the state, they will at all times be willing to toe the path of peace, law and order, stressing, “we are chairmen and will remain chairmen. We will resume duty at our offices as usual and protect our mandate.”