The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senate President Bukola Saraki, House Speaker Yakubu Dogara, former Senate President David Mark and PDP presidential aspirant Atiku Abubakar yesterday condemned Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom’s planned impeachment.
Saraki and Dogara in a joint statement described as “a desecration of the legislative sanctity” the going situation in the Benue House of Assembly in which eight of the 30 members of the House of Assembly have commenced impeachment of the governor.
Saraki and Dogara said that the 22 other members of the State House of Assembly who constituted more than two-thirds majority were kept away from the Assembly complex.
“We have monitored closely the development in Benue State in which the impeached Speaker, Terkimbir Ikyange, led seven other members to serve impeachment notice on the Governor, Samuel Ortom, while the 22 other members who constitute more than two-third majority have been prevented from having access to the chamber. We believe this is illegality and does not conform to parliamentary procedure on impeachment.
“We also note with surprise the role of the Police in this undemocratic event in which the minority is seeking to impeach a Governor against the position of the majority. We believe it is the sacred institution of the legislature that is being desecrated and rubbished in all these negative developments.
“The situation in Benue State House of Assembly has grave implication for the nation’s democracy and it represents a throw-back to the period of dictatorship in our country. It also represents how the Nigeria Police are being misused to achieve political end. In a
statement recently, the Presidency derisively referred to an era in the past where a minority number of legislators were used to impeach Governors who were unfriendly with the Federal Government. What we are seeing in Benue now is a return to that inglorious era.
“We believe this unlawful and unconstitutional move to impeach Governor Samuel Ortom by a minority should be condemned by all lovers of democracy, at home and abroad. We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to call the police to order and prevent a breakdown of law and order. We also call on friends of Nigeria in the international community to lend their voice in condemning the perpetration of illegalities and actions that can subvert our democracy.”
After an emergency meeting in Abuja, the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) condemned the impeachment move and also “the use of the EFCC and DSS to harass and intimidate officials of the Benue State Government”.
According to the PDP, the unfolding drama in Benue State was meant to foment a crisis that could warrant the declaration of emergency rule in the state.
The communique continued: “It is on record that the erstwhile Speaker had been impeached, suspended and restrained by a court of competent jurisdiction from parading himself as Speaker.
“In spite of this, it is shocking that no fewer than 300 policemen were alleged to have escorted the impeached Speaker to the State House of Assembly to initiate a disgraceful and manifestly illegal process.
“This misadventure is dead on arrival and again demonstrates the desperation of this failed APC Federal Government. PDP therefore urges its members, particularly in Benue State, to rise in defence of their rights and our hard earned democracy”.
Atiku said: “Any attempt to disregard the rule of law and constitution in the impeachment of a governor is a recipe for anarchy and officially sanctioned lawlessness.”
The former Vice President noted that whatever might be the short term political benefits of lawlessness, the long term dangers are by far greater than the perceived benefits.
Senator Mark said: “It is unconstitutional and devoid of any known legislative practices and procedures.
“I will advise members of the Benue State House of Assembly to be guided by the constitution and legislative rules and procedures. They should not engage in any act that could undermine the established tenet of democracy.”