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Benue speaker blasts local council chairmen for resisting suspension, gives reason for recommendation



The Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly, Aondona Dajoh, on Sunday, explained why House recommended the suspension of the chairmen and councilors of the 23 local government areas of the state.

Governor Hyacinth Alia on Friday suspended the local council officials and directed them to hand over all government properties in their possession to the Director of General Service and Administration and clerks in their various councils.

The Assembly had 48 hours earlier recommended their suspension over alleged misappropriation of funds.

This followed the presentation of the interim report of an ad-hoc committee set up by the House to investigate the councils’ finances.

The council chairmen on Saturday rejected their suspension at a media briefing in Makurdi.

However, in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Refeal Akume, the speaker stressed the recommendation followed the consideration of a report on the income and expenditures of the councils forwarded to the parliament by Governor Alia and his request for the investigation of the report in line with Section 128(1)(2) of the 1999 Constitution.

He also berated the chairmen for resisting their suspension from office.

Dajoh said: “It is appalling that the suspended council chairmen are not aware that Chapter 5, Part 2, Section 128 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended empowers the State House of Assembly to cause investigation into any matter it has powers to make laws upon (Section 128(1)(a), especially if such an investigation is for the purpose of exposing corruption, the inefficiency of waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence, section 128(2)(b).

“Furthermore, the suspended chairmen ought to have been aware that Section 7 of the same constitution which they flagrantly refused to be acquainted with grants the State House of Assembly the powers to make laws for the structure, composition, functions, and financing of the Local Government and it was on the strength of this constitutional provision that the Benue State Local Government Establishment law was passed by the State House of Assembly.

READ ALSO: Gov Alia suspends local council chairmen, councillors in Benue

“For the avoidance of doubt, the Local Government Establishment Law also empowers the State House of Assembly to make recommendations where and when necessary to the Governor for the suspension of Local Government Councils in cases of misappropriation of public funds or Gross abuse of office by any of them.

“It is worthy to restate that the Benue State House of Assembly came up with the recommendation for the suspension of all the Local Government Councils in the State following the consideration of a report on the income and expenditures of all the Local Government Councils forwarded to it by the State Governor, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia and a request to the House to investigate into the matter in line with Section 128 sub 1and 2 of the Constitution.

“The suspension of the Councils was ordered by the House following glaring cases of misappropriation of public funds and open disregard for relevant financial laws such as Financial Memorandum and Financial Instructions by the suspended Council Chairmen and the need for them to pave the way for a smooth and hitch-free detailed investigation into their financial records.

“If the suspended Council Chairmen have nothing to hide, they should rather feel free to cooperate with the ad-hoc committee set up by the House of Assembly headed by Hon. Peter Ipusu in order to prove their innocence rather than playing to the gallery through press conferences, knowing fully that if not found guilty, they will be reinstated at the end of the investigations.

“Benue people should be fully aware that the investigation being carried into the income and expenditures of the suspended Local Government Councils in the State is in line with Sections 7, 103 128, 129 of the Constitution and the State Local Government Establishment Law.”

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