The recent suspension of two local government chairmen in Plateau State by the House of Assembly is causing upset in the state, ACHOR ABIMAJE reports.
The three months suspension of two local government council chairmen by the Plateau State House of Assembly is unsettling the political waters in the state.
The Speaker of the State Assembly, Rt. Hon. Nuhu Abok announced the suspension during the primary.
The two affected council chairmen are Hon. Abas Ademu Wukdom of Kanam LGC and his counterpart Hon. Isaac Kwalu of Quanpan LGC. Interestingly they are both members of the ruling All Progressive Congress party (APC).
Speaker of the House of Assembly Hon Nuhu Abok stated this at Plenary said that the two council chairmen were invited to appear before the house regarding some illegalities in their respective Councils but failed to appear before the house.
“The speaker said as lawmakers they can’t give instructions and it would not be adhered to. So in this regard the two Council chairmen stand suspended for three months.”
He directed the two LGA chairmen to handover to their deputies. The development has since set tongues wagging in the state as political pundits opined that the state Assembly has no power to suspend the two council chairmen who were elected into office.
For other watchers, the suspension smacks of political witch-hunt on the allegation that the lawmakers are acting in a script allegedly written from above to cripple the political ambition of Hon. Isaac Kwalu the chairman of Quanpan local government council whose campaign posters for the Plateau South Senatorial rerun election has gone viral on social media.
After the demise of the senator representing Plateau South in the National Assembly late Senator Ignatius Longjan who was allegedly said to be holding forth for Governor Simon Lalong ahead of 2023 senatorial election.
INEC had declared the seat vacant culminating in aspirants declaring their intention to vie for the vacant position. It was gathered that one of the suspended local government chairmen, Hon Kwalu enjoys followership in the zone having been declared best performing local government chairman in the state in terms of infrastructures and good governance.
Lalong and Kwalu are from the same Senatorial zone. Observers of Plateau South politics are of the view that the chairman is poised to battle for the seat with his boss.
Efforts to speak to the chairman of Quanpan Local government council Hon. Isaac Kwalu over his ordeal proved abortive as his mobile phone line remained switched off as at press time.
But the embattled chairman of Kanam local government council of Plateau State Hon. Abas Wukdum expressed shock over his suspension from office by the State Assembly saying he only heard of the three months suspension on social media.
“As I am talking to you, I have not received any letter of suspension from the House of Assembly. I heard the news of my suspension on social media yesterday evening,” he said.
Wakdum while speaking to newsmen in Jos, said the House of Assembly accused him of refusing to reinstate five councillors who were earlier suspended from office for six months as a result of indiscipline by the legislative arm of Kanam LGC.
He pointed out that the development is an internal affairs of the legislative arm of the council adding that the five councillors were later reinstated and all their salaries and other benefits which accrued to them were paid which he confirmed to the Assembly when he appeared before them.
The chairman further added that as a former member of the Plateau State House of Assembly, he will not undermine the state legislators stressing that the House just wants to give him a bad name purposely to hang him.
“I have taken what happened to me in good faith. I am appealing to my supporters to remain calm. I have informed his Excellency Rt. Hon. Simon Lalong. I am waiting patiently for any decision from the executive,” he said.
The Coalition for the Defense of Democracy in Nigeria (CDDN) Plateau State chapter has however condemned the suspension of the local government chairmen by the members of the State House of Assembly without recourse to due process.
Coordinator of coalition, Comrade Prince Miaphen, in a statement, said it is no longer news that since the chairman showed interests in contesting for the rerun elections in the forthcoming Senatorial elections in Plateau South, there has been rumors and attempts to silence his aspiration by some privileged quarters in government.
According to the statement, these elements allegedly conspired with Mr. Speaker and his supposed honorable members to get him suspended at all cost adding that these were the same members that recently celebrated the chairman as one of the most performing chairmen in the state.
CDDN also noted that more worrisome to them is that the Speaker and most of the principal officers are all young men who are supposed to be leading by example saying they are supposed to be ambassadors of “Not Too Young To Run” stooping so low to have suspended the chairman within a twinkle of an eye based on orders from above.
“Surprisingly, Mr. Speaker who has been missing in action since his emergence has suddenly found his voice over for no reason. This is the same person that has performed grossly below average thus putting the young people on the Plateau in total shame and denial.”
Furthermore, the coalition said, “We are calling on the entire members of the Plateau State House of Assembly to immediately reverse their unpopular decision suspending Hon. Isaac Kwalu within the next 48 hours or have us to contend with.”
According to the statement CDDN disclosed that by these, they are putting all civil society groups, various youth organizations and student bodies on standby as they shall soon occupy the State house of Assembly if they fail to heed to our humble appeal.
But a counter reaction came from a pressure group under the auspices of Plateau Regeneration Group (PRG). The group commended the Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly Hon. Abok Ayuba, and other members of the House on the suspension of the two local government chairmen of the state for insubordination.
The group in a statement signed by the public relations officer, Pam Datiri and made available to LEADERSHIP said the sacked LGA chairmen are not bigger than the Plateau House of Assembly.
“We commend the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Abok for carrying out his legislative functions perfectly. The face of the legislature in Plateau has changed for the better and the people are now feeling the positive impact of the Speaker since he took over office in June 2019.”
According to the statement several legislative interventions made by the Assembly under Speaker Abok has proved very important in the lives of the people, stressing that the collaboration between the executive and the legislature in this era has been of immense benefit to the people as Plateau keeps enjoying peace and progress.
He said the 9th Assembly under the able leadership of Honourable Abok has prioritised the interest of the people and development of the state above their individual or political parties’ interest through giving needed support to the executive arm.
The group, however, urged the speaker and members of the legislative arm to avoid distraction, remain united, peaceful and Continue to provide more dividends of democracy to their constituents.
On his part, director of North Central zone of Civil liberties organisation (CLO), Mr. Steve Aluko, described the suspension as an illegal act.
According to him, how can a House of Assembly that can not guarantee Local government autonomy and the conduct of LGC election in four council areas of the state suspended council chairmen that are duly elected by their people in the grassroot.
The human rights activist also urged the state governor Barr. Simon Lalong came out openly to condemn this act with the view to reinstate the two council bosses back to their respective offices or else he too will be seen as an accomplice in the saga .
He said it is very wrong and every right thinking Nigerians should stand in condemnation of this development as it unconstitutional and autocratic despondency of the House of Assembly.
Aluko added that their suspension is an offence to the principle of check and balance and separation of power stressing that they have no right and were not empowered by the Constitution to suspend elected council chairmen.
The CLO director called on the House of Assembly to as a matter of urgency rescind their step with immediate effect or else they are going to mobilise civil society’s groups to storm the Assembly premises for a massive protest against the undemocratic move by the Plateau State House of Assembly.