The Presidency has weighed in on claims that President Muhammadu Buhari was behind the move by minority members of the Benue State House of Assembly to impeach the state governor, Samuel Ortom, insisting that Buhari would never be part of any unconstitutional act.
The eight lawmakers of the State House of Assembly, who are members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, on Monday commenced impeachment proceeding against Ortom, while some 22 of their colleagues were reportedly blocked from gaining access to the Assembly complex by the security operatives.
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum on Monday described the development as the barring of fangs and instigation of anarchy by the General Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government in Benue State, adding that Buhari should be held responsible if there is a break down of law and order in Benue State following the plot to impeach Governor Ortom.
In a statement by Yinka Odumakin (South West), Senator Bassey Henshaw ( South South), Prof Chigozie Ogbu (South East), Dr Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt), the leaders maintained that the happening in Benue state was an embarrassment to democracy as they called on the international community to help the state.
The statement read, “It has been reported that a ruthless and desperate plot was hatched this morning which involved drafting policemen from Abuja and neighbouring states to force the majority 22 members of the State Assembly out of the Assembly complex to pave way for the impeached Speaker, Hon Terkimbi Ikyange and six others to sit.
“The gangsteric operations which was said to have been led by Benue State AC OPS,Emmanuel Adesina saw the minority members sitting without the mace and the clerk of the Assembly, suspending the majority 22 members and serving impeachment notice on Governor Ortom.
“It is shameful that President Buhari who realised after about four months that his Inspector General of Police did not obey his directive to go and secure lives in Benue State and has done nothing to him is so eager to deploy policemen to the state to enforce illegality for political calculations.
“We are worried that till date the President and his security team have yet to bring anybody to book for the killing of hundreds of people in Benue. They have only been putting pressure on the governor to suspend the anti-open grazing law and cede land for imperialistic and land -grabbing notion of ranches.
“It is equally embarrassing that a supposed democratic government would resort to thuggish tactics where political engagement is needed.
“This is a throwback to full blown dictatorship and the dark days of putting human beings in crate.
“We want to let President Buhari know in advance that he will be held responsible for any breakdown of law and and order in Benue and any possible loss of lives.
“We call on the international community to pay particular attention to the on-going subversion of the democratic process in Benue by the Buhari government.
“We stand in solidarity with the people of Benue at this dark moment as evil walks on four legs across their state. They must not flinch or surrender as this shall come to pass.”
Responding to those linking his principal to the Benue saga, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, in a statement made available to journalists, described such imputations as paranoia at its worst which, according to him, was coming from people who have wittingly positioned themselves against the clean-up of the country, and the way things are now being done.
While stressing that such persons prefer business as usual, Adesina said, “Even while attending the ECOWAS/ECCAS Summit in Togo, strident attempts were being made to drag President Muhammadu Buhari into the unfolding drama between the executive and the legislature in Benue State.
“Statements have been issued by different interest groups, insinuating that the President may have a hand in the development in Benue.
“President Buhari will never be part of any unconstitutional act, and any attempt to link him with the inglorious past, when minority number of lawmakers impeached governors, will not stick. It will simply be like water off the duck’s back.
“Those with open minds know this, but those who cavil would rather source everything untoward to the President. It is murky ground in which they are now marooned, as fallout of their resistance to change in the country.
“When it suits them, they preach separation of powers and true federalism, and in another breath, they call on the President to interfere brazenly in affairs at state level.
“President Buhari will always stand by all that is noble and fair, and will reject attempts to drag him into infamy.
“People who stoke fires by deliberate acts of omission or commission, and then summon the President to come and put it out will find that this President will be guided by the Constitution at all times, no matter the attempt to entangle him in unwarranted controversies.”