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‘A throwback to dictatorship’ — Saraki, Dogara speak on attempt to remove Ortom

Senate President Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the house of representatives, say the situation of the Benue state house of assembly, is throwback to the period of dictatorship in the country.

On Monday, Terkimbir Ikyange, ex-speaker who was recently removed from office, led six lawmakers to serve an impeachment notice on Samuel Ortom, the governor.

The lawmakers were said to have been helped by the police. They have since been suspended.

In a statement, Yusuph Olaniyonu and Turaki Hassan, spokespersons of Saraki and Dogara, quoted their principals as describing the act as an “illegality and does not conform to parliamentary procedure on impeachment”.

They asked President Muhammadu Buhari to call the police to order and prevent a break down of law and order.

“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 state 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,” the statement read.

“We also note with surprise the role of the police in this undemocratic events 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 was 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.”

The federal lawmakers advised against compounding the crisis in Benue which has recorded many killings through clashes between farmers and herdsmen.

They also called for the intervention of Nigerians, home and abroad.

“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 break-down of law and order,” they said.

“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.

“There is already a tense atmosphere in Benue state following the recent killings. Nobody should encourage any action or move which may exacerbate the security situation in the north-central state. As leaders of the federal legislature, we are ready to work with our colleagues in both chambers of the National Assembly to prevent any attempt to destroy any state legislature or use it to derail democracy.”

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