The Plateau State chapter of the ruling All Progressive Congress APC is worried over the incessant impeachment notice being issued to the Executive by the Local Governments’ Legislative Arm in the State.
Indeed, this development has made some Council’s Chairmen to be on their toes and a confirmation that the crisis rocking the party have spread to the grassroot level.
First to initiate the impeachment move was the Legislative Arm of Langtang North, then followed by Jos North and Mangu LGC where they passed a vote of no confidence on their respective Council Chairmen citing corruption, incompetent and high handedness as reasons for their actions.
Indeed, there was a total love lost among the members of the ruling APC in Plateau State after the party primaries in the state. Many believe that the outcome of the exercise is the reasons for the continuous crisis in the party that has trickled down to Local Government Areas in the State.
Our correspondent recall that 12 members of the legislative arm of the Langtang North LGC signed a vote of no confidence letter served on the Chairman, Barr. Zulfa Bitrus Rimven.
It was further gathered that the Councillors accused the Council boss of several offences.
A member of the legislative arm who does not want his name in print accused the Council chairman Hon Zulfa of fanning the embers of crisis and disunity in Langtang North APC .
In his words Zulfa is deliberately undermining political leaders from the Council for personal gains.
He said, “As I speak to you the APC in Langtang North is not United ,I want to use this opportunity to tell his Excellency Governor Simon Lalong that the council boss is causing more bad than good to the party in Langtang North. We have to be careful especially as elections gets closer, I do not see our Party winning any election in Langtang North now because of the way Zulfa has been operating.
Similarly, a group operating under the aegis of Langtang North United Action for Change ( LNUAC ) had called on the Plateau state Governor Simon Lalong to sack the Chairman of the council Barrister Rimven Bitrus Zulfa over non performance and incompetency .
The group leader Hon Ponya Iliya , who addressed newsmen in Jos lamented that since resumption of office about a year ago , the Chairman of the Council has nothing to show to the people as he has not carried out any developmental project .
The youths also alleged misappropriation of funds meant for the development of the council by the chairman and many sundry issues.
But the Council boss Hon. Bitrus Zulfa Rimven in his reaction told our correspondent on phone that he is not aware of any impeachment move by the councillors.
According to him, “Iam hearing this from you for the first time. You must have reasons to impeach some body and there are procedures to follow .
Zulfa further stressed “First of all you served the person concerned with impeachment notice. As I speak I have not received any letter to that effect.” He said.
In the case of Jos North LGC 15 out of 20 legislators has passed a vote of no confidence on their Chairman Hon Shehu Bala Usman citing gross misconduct, abuse of office amongst others.
Councillor representing Tudun wada ward Hon Christopher Atang while moving the motion for passing of a vote of no Confidence said the Council Chairman has awarded contracts without due process as provided by law among which are Jenta Adamu 3km road Construction, new market 1.5 km, Yan Ganda-Rikkos 1.5km and purchase of pediatric hospital equipment at Fudawa, supply and installation of transformers at exorbitant prices, concerete pavement and drainage at Farin Gada market among others.
Hon Attang further alleged that the council chairman connived with some money lenders to secure fictitious loan facility with high interest rate at the detriment of the local government without proper approval which ran into millions of naira, collection of tenement rate by friends and family.
According to him the above named alledgations are true as facts are there having set up a committee and visited the various places in the council and interacted with the people involved were there made impeachable confessions about the gross misconduct of the council chairman Shehu Bala
Supporting the motion Councillor representing Naraguta A ward Hon Abdulraham Aliyu said the Council Chairman has failed the people who elected him through his actions and said as legislators they will not fold thier arms and watch illegality take place
He noted that the Chairman have three days to response as they the legislators will forward a letter to the house of assembly for investigation and if found quilty will face the music as the State assembly will do a thorough investigation into the allegations.
But, Usman in his reaction condemned in strong terms his purported impeachment in the social media, describing it as the handiwork of his detractors who are bent on destabilizing his administration and plunged the area in a needless crisis.
A statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Philip Eplong, the chairman described it as an exercise in futility that will not stand the test of time since there is no any record of Legislative sitting
The Chairman noted that to impeached a sitting Chief Executive, proper and constitutional channels; such as the collection of the two third majority of signatures of members to a petition; presentation of the petition to the chairman; the setting of seven Man committee shall be constituted to hear the alleged offences, if any and the presentation of the Committee’s report for deliberation; must be followed.
The statement said all these procedures were not followed and described the alleged impeachment as a social media exercise and an abuse of the Legislative integrity, adding that what is reported is unconstitutional, null and void.
However in a twist of event Shehu Bala who resumed office the following after the purported impeachment as a demonstration that he is still incharged fired two Supervisory Councilors by terminating their appointment with immediate effect for their various role in the attempt to impeach him.
Those whose appointment were terminated are the Supervisory Councilor of Information, Research and Documentation, Silas Ibrahim and his Water Sanitation and Hygiene cournterpart, Christopher Nnajiofor.
In a statement signed by the Council’s Secretary, Pastor Samuel Gyang Chollom, the Chairman directed them to hand over all government property in their possession to the Council’s Director of Personnel Management without any further delay.
In the same vein , the Legislative Arm of Mangu LGC also taken its turn on Thursday and impeached the Council’s Deputy Chairman, Garba Hassan, and suspended the Chairman, Daput Minister for 90 Days over allegation of gross misconduct and inability to discharge statutory obligations.
Our correspondent gathered that immediately after the impeachment, the Legislative Chambers was sealed as a result of the developement consequently, the councillors were left stranded after they carried out the exercise .
Meanwhile as they are about to swear in the leader of the legislative Council as Acting Chairman, men from the Nigerian Police took over the premises of the Council secretariat and prevented the leader of the legislative Council from being sworn in.
Reacting on the spade of impeachment moves by the legislative arms or LGC in the state, Comrade Steve Aluko the North Central director, Civil Liberties Organization CLO said Councillors are the legislative arm at the three tiers of Government and they have the right and is part of their obligation to oversight on the executives.
According to him, if they have a good grounds to impeach their chairmen, it is their constitutional right to do so. He said the problem is that when it is subject to abused, that is where the judiciary have a role to play and if there is miscarriage of justice , they can easily come in to right any percived injustice.
He argued that the allegations on which they have gone this far is weigthy stressing that, that is a criminal angle to governance which the legislators have legitimate ground to prove that the chairmen is corrupt and incompetent.
“I think they have legal ground to impeach . The problem is when it is used as a tool to blackmail or extort money from the executive, that is where it is said to be abused.”
He further said “If it is properly used, and is within the ambit of the law of the land is a welcome development. The most important thing is that it should not be abused .” Aluko said.
Similarly, the Chairman of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria ALGON Plateau state chapter Miskoom Alex Nantuaan in his reaction called on the Councillors to remain calm and appreciate the fact that this is a very difficult time in-view of the present global Economy down turn which Nigeria is not exception.
According to him, they should be patient as they will look into the issues raised to address them on their merit while urging them to maintain status quo ante .”
Piqued by this developement, the Plateau State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress APC quickly intervened to prevent reoccurence and to save the party from further embarrassement.
APC in a statement issued in Jos by the State publicity secretary Mr. Sylvanus Namang said the party has received with concern developments in Mangu, Jos North and Langtang North Local Governments in the past two days.
The party warned Legislative Arm Of Langtang North, Mangu Jos North LGC and others who want to follow suit to impeach their chairmen to shield their swords and allowed peace to reign in their respective Councils in the state.
He pointed out that these developement bother on misunderstanding between the Legislative and Executive Arms at the third tier of government where the Legislative Arms have impeached, suspended or threatened to impeach the Chairmen or their Deputies.
Namang argued that whatever are the merit or demerit of the actions by the Legislative Arms in the said local governments, the APC in the state calls for calm stressing that the status quo ante should be maintained in the said local goverments, which is that all the actions taken or purported to have been taken against the Executive Arms should be suspended forthwith.
“The APC is a party built on a solid foundation of law and order and has a very strong dispute resolution mechanism which were not deployed or exhausted in these cases.”
Namang assured the feuding parties and the public that it would dig into the roots causes of the disquiet in the affected local goverments and any infraction discovered would not go without appropriate sanction.
He commended the roles of Governor Simon Lalong through his Deputy, Professor Sonni Gwanle Tyoden, the Plateau State House of Assembly Committee on Local Government and Chieftaicy Affairs, the Honourable Commissioner of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, the Attorney General and Commissiner of Justice and security agencies in the state in promptly restoring sanity and law and order in the affected local goverments.