There are indications that the administration of Benue State Governor Hyacinth Alia of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is on a collision course with the 23 local government chairmen elected in March 2022 under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Channels Television reports that the local government chairmen have vowed not to obey Alia’s directive that they hand over the reins of power and proceed on suspension as recommended by the state House of Assembly.
They said this while addressing journalists on Saturday on the assembly’s resolution and the directive by the Permanent Secretary, Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs to suspend them on the orders of the governor.
The chairmen said they had briefed their lawyers to file a contempt suit against the state government for failing to respect an earlier injunction restraining it from sacking them from office.
Reacting to the position of the chairmen, Alia, through his Chief Press Secretary, Tersoo Kula, said it was not a sack order but a suspension.
He added that it would allow for thorough investigations into the income and expenditure of the councils which allegedly showed traces of misappropriation based on audit reports received so far.
The 23 local government chairmen elected on the platform of the opposition PDP met with the governor on June 20 to turn in their reports of income and expenditure.
After the meeting, which many of the chairmen feared would be their last, Alia surprisingly said dissolving them was not on his mind.
But the situation appeared to change days later when he received audit reports from the local councils, which he forwarded to the state assembly for investigation, leading to the resolution of the house to suspend them from office.
But the chairmen at a press conference, said they would not obey the directive to hand over before their tenure elapsed in 2024, adding that they had prepared a suit against the state government for contempt of court.
The standoff between the local government chairmen and the governor appears to be the latest episode in an ongoing political battle between both parties in Benue, following the PDP’s loss in the March 2023 governorship election to the APC.
See the letter from the bureau below: