By Apeh Philip
It will be recalled that the Benue State House of Assembly has been enmeshed in a corruption saga which has stalled legislative activities in the past three weeks, just as majority of the members have become guest of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over an alleged misappropriation and diversion of N750 million meant for purchase of cars.
For this reason, the Benue State House of Assembly has become the toast of all political gossip around the state with the recent news of arrests and visits by its leadership to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) making headlines. This is even as the Benue State Governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom had dissociated himself from the matter declaring publicly that he had decided to allow the law take its course as it is in line with the anti-corruption stance of his administration.
However only yesterday the assembly again resurfaced with another phase of the saga with the near attempt at impeaching the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Terkimbi Ikyange which led to the disruption of the days business not minding the fact that the Assembly had not convened for over three weeks due to the unfortunate twist of fate caused by the serial arrests of its leadership.
According to reports, crisis started when a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) member from Logo State constituency, Hon. Kester Kyenge, raised an order of public importance which was thrown out by the Speaker, while other members insisted that he should be allowed to raise the order.
It was gathered that members who were also affected in the car saga, thought Kyenge was raising an order to pass vote of no confidence on the Speaker and so became violent, which divided the House along party lines.
To which sitting was suspended for 30 minutes and when it reconvened, it adjourned till Thursday.
According to the Leader of the group, Consensus for Change, Honourable Kyenge, which is believed to have perfected the impeachment plot, members had passed vote of no confidence on the Speaker and asked him to resign immediately.
Giving reasons for the call, Kyenge said there were gray areas that needed to be addressed by the Speaker, which included reasons workers in the state were yet to be paid, despite the bailouts given to the state, to explain the controversial N750 million meant for the purchase of the vehicles to members and why members were shortchanged in the car purchase.
Others included that the Speaker should with immediate effect clear the air on the reported N500 million found in his account and what happened to the N86 million meant for the purchase of biometric machines which were yet to be seen.
This sour situation is reminiscent of the 7th Assembly where the Speaker, Rt. Hon. David Iorhemba was believed to have used violence in an attempt to circumvent his impeachment, employing thugs for an alleged sum of 2 Million Naira to beat up his colleagues, steal the mace and disrupt activities of the day.
Unfortunately this plot failed as the hired guns came after the vote was passed and the speaker, impeached before his plot will be achieved; the mace was taken as planned and Assembly members beaten up but the Speaker unavoidably lost his seat.
Today political watchers see this disruption and adjournment as a similar strategy employed where delay and violence was employed and thus predictions have it that the result might be same if the executive governor does not wade into the matter.
It is also believed that the resistance and unwillingness of the House leadership to investigate with an intention to resolve the ongoing character discoloration experienced by the house and its resolve to protect the protagonists of the act, even resorting to violence may not be unconnected to its complicity in the matter.
It is just imperative for Rt. Hon. Terkimbi Ikyange to show his transparency and non involvement in the saga by allowing the Assembly purge itself of undeserving elements that have already caused much harm to the Assembly and state at large.
It will only be rife to state that all interested political pundits have taken the back seat in wait for unfolding episodes to observe whether the Consensus for Change will carry through with its threat or come back with their tails between their legs like is known of all state assemblies.
Apeh Philip is a public commentator and writes from Lagos. you can reach him at email@example.com