Since news broke of the unconstitutional attempt by a few lawmakers in Benue to impeach the state governor, Nigerians have issued swift and strong condemnations of the Buhari government and the police.
On Monday, the police and the Department of State Services (DSS) gave security cover to eight lawmakers in the 30-member Benue assembly to meet in the assembly complex and initiate impeachment proceedings against the governor, Samuel Ortom.
Ortom made history last week by becoming the first ever governor to defect from the All Progressives Congress (APC), a move that is believed to be responsible for his travails.
Saraki-Dogara joint statement: Desecration of legislative sanctity
The country’s number three and four citizens issued a rare joint statement condemning the moves to impeach Ortom. Senate president Bukola Saraki and House Speaker Yakubu Dogara said that the impeachment attempt by a minority is “a desecration of the legislative sanctity.”
- They asked President Buhari to call the police to order and stop them being used to achieve political purposes.
- They warned that the situation has “grave implications” for the country’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,” they said.
PDP: Disgraceful and manifestly illegal
On its part, the leading opposition party, PDP, held an emergency meeting in Abuja, after which it condemned the Benue crisis, alleging that the situation was meant to foment a crisis that could warrant the declaration of emergency rule in the state.
“It is shocking that no fewer than 300 policemen were alleged to have escorted the impeached Speaker to the State House of Assembly to initiate a disgraceful and manifestly illegal process.
“This misadventure is dead on arrival and again demonstrates the desperation of this failed APC Federal Government. PDP therefore urges its members, particularly in Benue State, to rise in defence of their rights and our hard earned democracy.”
The former Vice President said he is “greatly embarrassed” by the situation. He condemned the “aberration and arbitrariness in the plot to oust Governor Ortom contrary to the provisions of the country’s constitution” and warned that any attempt to disregard the rule of law and constitution in the impeachment of a governor is a “recipe for anarchy and officially sanctioned lawlessness.”
According to him, even though lawlessness may have short term political benefits, the long term dangers are by far greater than those perceived benefits. Atiku said “if unchecked, the political situation in Benue State could lead to a domino effect across the country, thereby jeopardizing our democracy and endangering innocent lives and property of lawful citizens.”
The former senate president who hails from Benue state added his voice to those of other critics, describing the move as “unconstitutional and devoid of any known legislative practices and procedures.”
He warned against any action that could undermine the established tenet of democracy.