Kester’s Suspension: Why Speaker Ikyange Can No Longer Act As Number Three Citizen In Benue
By Atavti Kenneth, Guest Columnist
Anyone who has been following happenings at the Benue State House of Assembly will certainly conclude that there is no way the Honourable Speaker of the House, Mr. Terkimbir Ikyange, who is presently facing corruption cases at the EFCC can effectively act as number three citizen of the corruption-ridden state.
An American legislator would have honourably resign if he is the one facing these challenges but anything goes here in Nigeria. And that is why what we call ‘Rule of Laws’ doesn’t have any impact again.
Dr. KESTER Kyenge, representative of Logo state constituency at the Benue State House of Assembly did not imagine that when fighting corruption; if one may use the parlance in vogue, ‘corruption fights back.’ He has been slammed with a five-month suspension from the House last Thursday after his bid and that of his ilk to impeach the Speaker, Terkimbir Ikyange on the allegation of corruption amounting to N750m failed.
Kyenge was suspended for daring to checkmate the leadership of the state house of Assembly over their alleged role in the N750m car scam that has put the legislative arm of the government in the state in bad light.
Kyenge who is the leader of the pragmatic group; ‘Consensus for Change’, a body which is largely made up of members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the House , raised an order of public importance which was jettisoned by the Speaker, while other members insisted that Kyenge should be allowed to raise the order.
It was gathered that the APC members, who thought that Kyenge was raising an order to pass vote of no confidence on the Speaker became violent, which divided the House along party lines.
Left with no other choice, the Speaker had to suspend the sitting for 30 minutes and when the House reconvened, it later adjourned till Thursday, to calm frayed nerves.
Leader of the Consensus for Change, Honourable Kyenge who addressed newsmen after the House adjourned, said 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 as reported in the media and what happened to the N86 million meant for the purchase of biometric machines which were yet to be seen.
Kyenge explained that there was nothing to suggest that the members planned to impeach the Speaker, “but what we demand is transparency in the activities of the House,” adding that it was unfortunate that the Speaker had refused to be transparent in his financial dealings in the House.
Members of the Consensus for Change had passed a vote of no confidence on the Speaker whom they also asked to resign his poisition over the alleged N750million car purchase scam and other sundry issues rocking House.
The chairman, House Committee on Information, Honourble Bem Mngutyo, who spoke to newsmen after the adjournment, said the PDP member who raised motion on order did not follow the House rules as contained in Order 8:4, which he said prompted the Speaker to ask him to sit.
Mngutyo noted that before the House convened on Tuesday, security report hinted the House leadership that the PDP members were out to disrupt Tuesday meeting, acknowledging the fact that the House had a problem at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), but stated that the aggrieved members ought to have waited until the issue was sorted out before the House comes out of ways to resolve their internal problems.
The decision to suspend the Logo State Constituency representative who is an ally of former Governor Gabriel Suswam apart from the fact that they hail from the same local government area came on the heels of last Tuesday’s rowdy session where members engaged in a shouting match leading to a sudden adjournment of sitting by the Speaker.
Dr. Kyenge’s suspension was triggered by a motion moved by the Majority Leader, Mr. Benjamin Adanyi, in which he drew the attention of the House to media reports on the alleged scam credited to Dr. Kyenge.
The motion was seconded by the member for Adoka/Ugboju, Mr. Adam Okloho, who called for the relevant rules of the House to be invoked to protect the Assembly.
Countering the motion, the member representing Katsina-Ala East, Mr. Ianna Jato urged the House to refer the matter to the appropriate committee for investigation. His counter motion was seconded by the member for Otukpo Akpa, Mr. Egli Ahubi.
The Speaker however called for votes on the matter, those in favour of the five months suspension polled 14 votes while those against had 11.
The Minority Leader of the House, Alhaji Sule Audu, while reacting to the development said the House went beyond its rule.
According to him: “they have violated the fundamental rights of Dr. Kyenge to fair hearing because they ought to have referred the matter to the ethics and privileges committee of the House.
Moreover, the suspension of a member shouldn’t go beyond 14 days, so we are going to challenge it in court.
“We must also warn that the implication of the actions of members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, is that they will destabilize the state and also distract the government by their actions.”
Meanwhile, the N750 car scam has drawn flak from certain quarters with a call to the Speaker and other House Leaders who are involved in the scam to resign from their positions.
According to a pressure group known as Concerned Benue Youths for Good Governance led by John Ashaver in a signed press statement, “It is unfortunate that in just one year, the House is enmeshed in monumental corruption. All the principal officers should resign. The House stinks”.
It was gathered reliably that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC which grilled some of the members suspected to be involved in the alleged scam has asked the Deputy Speaker of the House, James Okefe to refund a whopping sum N72 million to the state government while the Majority Leader of the House, Benjamin Adanyi is to refund N42 million.
The Speaker, while briefing newsmen in Makurdi last Wednesday wondered where the media got the N750 million figure, adding that the total contract sum was N317 million so it wouldn’t have been N750 million.
Reliable sources disclosed that the Corruption actors would soon be arraigned before the Federal High Court Makurdi to answer for their involvement in the alleged scam.
Can the good people of Benue state allow a man who is allegedly been investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC over allegations bordering on fraud, embezzlement and corruption amounting to over N750million keep on presiding as number three citizen in the state?