Benue 2019: Buhari, Akume, declare war on Ortom to reclaim Benue

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is beginning to show signs of desperation to reclaim Benue State after the defection of Governor Samuel Ortom from APC to the Opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with the APC mandate.  Thus, the political warfare in Benue State is being intensified and the ‘Commanders’ are now joining their battalions in the war front.  President Muhammadu Buhari is gradually being noticed to be mobilizing the federal might to join forces with Senator George Akume to confront, bring down Ortom and his forces in Benue State, and perhaps, coercively reclaim the APC mandate.

National Daily monitored the political undercurrents in Makurdi, Benue State, in the early hours of Monday, July 30, 2018, through a reliable source. Early reports indicated that political forces from the camp of the godfather of Benue politics, Senator George Akume, took over Benue State House of Assembly complex; shielded and seemingly reinforced by a detachment of Police from Abuja, who joined in occupying the Benue Legislature after the lawmakers had adjourned sitting to August 15, 2018.

The Monday incidence was a carryover of the crisis in the State legislature following the impeachment of the Speaker of the House, Right Honourable Terkimbi Ikyange, last Tuesday and his subsequent suspension six months on Friday. The Benue Speaker was impeached by 22 of the 30 legislators, which constituted over 2/3 majority in the House of Assembly; the requisite 2/3 of 30 is 20 legislators, the house needs 11 legislators to stop the impeachment.

It was an irony that the eight lawmakers, perceived to be loyal to Akume, who couldn’t stop the impeachment of former Speaker Terkimbi Ikyange served impeachment notice on Governor Samuel Ortom. The lawmakers were indicated to include Adanyi Benjamin, Terhemba Chabo, Benjamin Nungwa, Bem Mngutyo, Adams Okloho, James Okefe and Nick Eworo, coordinated by the impeached Speaker, Terkimbi Ikyange. The APC is turning to democracy to minority rule rather than governance of the majority.

National Daily gathered that Tahav Agerzua, Chief Press Secretary to the Benue State Governor, alleged that the Police cleared the way for the eight lawmakers to sit in the House of Assembly chambers while the Police barricaded access to the House complex, shut out the 22 lawmakers on the side of Governor Ortom.

Governor Ortom had before his defection to PDP, engaged his former godfather, Senator George Akume, in total political war in the battle for the soul of Benue towards 2019 general elections. Ortom has been battling to secure governorship ticket for re-election for a second term.

The governor commenced uprooting of Akume’s implants in the State Government; Ortom dissolved the State Cabinet, booted out Akume’s commissioners and advisers in the state executive council and replaced them with his men.

Thereafter, Ortom proceeded to the State House of Assembly where the Speaker, Right Honourable Terkimbi Ikyange, was impeached last Tuesday and subsequently, suspended from legislative activities for six months on Friday.

National Daily gathered that 22 of the 30 members of the House of Assembly impeached Speaker Terkimbi Ikyange on Tuesday, July 24, 2018. At an emergency meeting of 19 lawmakers in the House held at the old Banquet Hall of the Benue State Government House, Makurdi, the Speaker was suspended from legislative activities for six months.

The meeting was shifted from the House of Assembly complex to the old Banquet Hall of the Benue State Government House when the police prevented the lawmakers from gaining access to their offices.

National Daily gathered that the Police, however, explained that they obstructed the lawmakers from entering the Assembly complex in order to forestall chaos and breakdown of law and order in the state. The new Speaker Titus Ubah, APC Kyaan, and the impeached Speaker, Terkimbi Ikyange, APC Ushongo, were said to be claiming occupancy of the Speaker’s Office while at the Assembly complex and their supporters forcing their way into the Assembly premises climbing the high fence round the complex.

Thus, the two leaders and their supporters were prevented from gaining access into the Assembly complex for sitting. The House, thereafter, adjourned from July 10 to Aug.15, 2018.

While on adjournment, the Akume group under Police protection returned Monday morning to initiate impeachment proceedings against the governor. However, the new Speaker, Rght Honourable Titus Ubah, led the 22 lawmakers, which include himself, to come back later in the day on Monday and suspended the eight lawmakers who invaded the Assembly in the early hours of Monday.

There were reports that youths in Benue State, at about 5:00am, mounted blockade in their thousands at the entrance of the House of Assembly to forestall plots to impeach Ortom.

The presence of heavily armed policemen is still being noticed at the Benue State House of Assembly which has shut down the legislature.