The 23 sacked Local Government Council Chairmen in Benue State have vowed to resist the directive by the government of Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia, to immediately vacate their offices before the expiration of their tenure in June 2024.
Governor Alia on Friday, suspended all the 23 local government chairmen and their councillors, based on the recommendation of the State House of Assembly on Wednesday, to suspend chairmen and legislative arms of the 23 local governments in the state.
Reacting to the development, the Chairmen declared their intention to institute a contempt case in court against the State government for allegedly going against an earlier court ruling on the matter.
However, the state chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, Mr Michael Uba during an interaction with the media in Makurdi, the state capital on Saturday, on their purported suspension from office by the State Assembly on June 21, 2023, on which premise letters were written to them on June 23, 2023, from the State Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, notifying them of the order to vacate their offices, spoke in favour of his colleagues, stated clearly that his members would not recognize nor comply with the order suspending them from office.
Uba insisted that they were elected into office by the people of the state for a two-year tenure and would not in any way surrender their mandates since they were not appointed, but elected into office by the people, “and we will not surrender that mandate, we are indeed ready to defend the mandate the people gave to us.
“We state without the slightest modicum of ambiguity or prevarication that we do not recognize such purporting of our suspension from office from such quarters as are purporting it, neither do we consider ourselves under any obligation to give heed to same or comply with any directive as emanates from it.
“Our position derives a fundamental base from the incontrovertible fact of our offices being a creation of law as guaranteed under the supreme umbrella of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended in 1999) which recognizes the tier of government we function at as the third in a tripod made up of the Federal, State and Local.
“We were elected as council chairmen on April 30, 2022, in the local council elections conducted by the Benue State Independent Electoral Commission (BSIEC) and sworn into office on June 29, 2022.
“We, in line with the provision of extant law proclaimed the legislative councils in our various areas which were also duly elected and thereafter forwarded to them our nominations for the offices of Supervisors whom we swore into the various statutorily designated offices, together with Special Advisers to our offices.
“We were not appointed into office but were elected by the electorate of Benue State and vested with a mandate which is guaranteed under the law, with the procedure for the administration of the councils under our leadership provided for under the Local Government Establishment Law of Benue State.
“It is, therefore, not known to us under such law, that we and the entirety of the government at our tier of it can be sacked in the manner as purported by the state Assembly and the Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.
“We equally defer to the judgement of the National Industrial Court holden in Makurdi which barred the government of Benue State at all levels from taking any action as seeks to temper with our lawfully recognized mandate as elected council chairmen. That judgement of the court is still subsisting and we are not even aware that the government appealed against it.
“We expect the government of Benue State to lead the way on the quest for strengthening an order of law and respect for due process in Benue, rather than promoting impunity and the sort of anarchy we are seeing in the actions of the State Assembly and the local government bureau,” Uba stated.