Makurdi – Local Government Chairmen from the 23 Local Government Councils in Benue State have resolved to defy the suspension order from Governor Hyacinth Alia, directing them to immediately vacate office.
This decision follows the governor’s move to enable an investigation into their financial activities, based on recommendations from the state’s House of Assembly.
The Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affair (BLGCA) instructed the chairmen to pass the reins of their positions to the most senior staff in their respective councils on Friday.
However, at a press conference on Saturday, the chairmen confirmed their decision not to obey these instructions.
Speaking on behalf of his peers, Mike Uba, Chairman of the Association of Local Governments Of Nigeria (ALGON), Benue State chapter, declared their refusal to submit to what they perceive as “illegality”. Uba argues that to do so would mean a disservice to the state.
Uba stressed that they were lawfully elected to their positions, along with their councillors, on April 30, 2022, for a two-year term.
As such, their tenure should, by constitutional standards, end on April 30, 2024.
He said, “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.”
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.”