Leadership (Abuja)

Nigeria: Thugs Invade Benue Assembly, Injure 28 Lawmakers, Speaker Resigns

The speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly yesterday, under a tense atmosphere, resigned his position when the lawmakers attempted to impeach him over what they described as gross financial misconduct.

About 40 armed youths stormed the Assembly Complex yesterday and disrupted the plenary, beating and injuring 28 members of the House who attended the session.

LEADERSHIP gathered that the game plan by the legislators to sack the speaker had lasted over a week until the members yesterday unanimously adopted an impeachment motion, on point of constitution, claiming that Iorhemba had exhibited high-handedness, misrepresentation of the Assembly to the state executive as well as gross financial misappropriation.

The lawmakers alleged that Iorhemba had misappropriated the sum of N105 million that was approved by the state government for training workshop for House members which, according to them, the speaker did not organise and also never remitted the money.

The motion was raised by Mr. Baba Odeh, member representing Otukpo/Akpa state constituency, and was seconded by Barrister Benjamin Adanyi, representing Makurdi North state constituency in the assembly. Baba Odeh is the leader of the G24.

Consequently, the deputy speaker, Dr. Stephen Omenje, who presided over the plenary read the resignation letter of the speaker before the lawmakers. After ruling on the motion, he declared the seat of the speaker vacant and set the machinery for election of a new speaker when the thugs invaded the house.

The armed youths, numbering about 40, drove in about five Hiace buses, destroyed the main gate of the Complex and broke into the hallowed chamber, beating up the 28 members that were present as well as legislative aides and carted away the mace.

The incident, which began at about 1pm, lasted more than four hours, but the police and other security agents could not arrive at the scene to maintain law and order. The thugs held the lawmakers hostage. It took the intervention of the local security men at the Assembly Complex to calm the nerves of the armed youths and to further open the gate which had been locked by the thugs.

The staff and the legislators had to flee for their safety.

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