By Philip Dzeremo/Makurdi
The political crisis in Benue took a new twist on Monday with 10 members of the 30-member House of Assembly endorsing a move to impeach Gov. Samuel Ortom.
The members, who were led by impeached and suspended Speaker, Terkimbi Ikyange, told newsmen in Makurdi that they would serve the impeachment notice “within seven days”.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 19 members of the assembly had, on July 24, impeached Ikyange over alleged highhandedness.
Ikyange had rejected the impeachment which he described as “an act of illegality”.
He had argued that it did not follow due process because the lawmakers met while the House was on recess.
Ikyange, who called out the remaining 10 legislators for a plenary to review developments, told newsmen that the lawmakers had reolved to commence impeachment process against the governor for gross financial misconduct.
He disclosed that the lawmakers were angered by the misappropriation of N54 billion from the state’s coffers.
Giving a breakdown of the funds allegedly misappropriated, Ikyange said that N22 billion was embezzled from the security vote while N32 billion was from local government funds.
He also claimed that the lawmakers were not happy over the non-payment of salaries.
NAN, however, reports that the identity of the members that sat with Ikyange were not disclosed to the newsmen who were barred from accessing the assembly complex.
Meanwhile, the other group of legislators, who impeached Ikyange last week, have described the impeachment notice as “illegal”.
The lawmakers, who were forced to use the Old Banquet Hall, Makurdi, after being denied access to the assembly complex, said that the members did not form the required quorum to sit and deliberate on the said impeachment.
In his motion dismissing the impeachment motion, Majority Leader of the House, Mr Avine Agbum, said the presiding officer of the session (Ikyange), was the impeached Speaker that had been suspended for six months.
He also moved for the suspension of all members who attended the session where the said impeachment notice was initiated.