Benue Council Chairmen only Suspended to pave way for investigation- Alia

Benue State governor, Rev. Fr. Dr. Hyacinth Iormem Alia, has debunked accusations from council chairmen in the state that he has sacked them from office.

The governor stated this in an interview on Saturday, while reaponding to a press conference organized by the suspended council chairmen, who accused him of sacking them from office despite a subsisting court order barring their sack.

Recall that the Benue State House of Assembly had during plenary session on Tuesday, June 20, 2023, recommended for the suspension of all the 23 local government chairmen as well as their various legislative arms over corruption allegations.

The recommendations were upheld by the state executive and the chairmen directed to handover their offices to the various DGSAs of their councils.

However, in reaction to the governor’s directive, the council chairmen had during a press conference on Saturday, June 24,2023, accused governor Alia of of flouting a court judgement, going ahead to sack them from office.

But speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Sir Tersoo Kula, the governor said he was surprised that the council chairmen have chosen to react this way, insisting that they have only been suspended from office, to pave way for a seamless investigation, not sacked.

He stated that the Governor merely acted on the correspondence from the State Assembly which recommended suspension of the council chairmen, pending when they will complete their investigations into cases of corruption alleged to have committed by them.

He denied knowledge of any court judgment saying even if there is any, it was merely speculative, especially that a cause of action had not arisen as at the time the chairmen are talking about a court order or judgement.

“The Governor is a man who obeys the law; he will never do anything to breach a court order. So, even if there exist a court order not to sack council chairmen, at least there is none barring anyone from investigating them”.

“But are they really insulated from appropriate sanctions by the extant constitutional provisions? They should come to equity with clean hands”, he wondered.

He querried further that, “Perhaps, they may have been misled into assuming that they are entitled to political immunity as ‘elected’ council chairmen”.

He urged the council chairmen to be patient, as they will be availed the opportunity to defend themselves before the House of Assembly committee, stating that those who will not be found guilty of the charges will be reinstated, insisting that they remain suspended from office, pending the outcome of the investigation.

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