30 January 2013

Nigeria: How Benue Minority Whip Escaped Midnight Arson

Makurdi — Few days ago the Minority Whip of the Benue State House of Assembly, Mr. Terkimbi Ikyange narrowly escaped death when his residence was attacked at the middle of the night by yet to be identified men who set ablaze his two cars that were parked at the porch of his house.

The lawmaker who escaped with members of his family unhurt, however lost the two cars and some valuable documents.

The attack on the young opposition lawmaker has generated lots of condemnation and reactions from the people who have also called on the authorities to stem the spate of such attacks in the state.

Though a leading member of the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, the victim is a significant voice in the legislative arm of government and one of the pillars of the opposition in the House.

Among the very first callers to the home of the visibly shocked legislator was the Deputy Governor of Benue State, Chief Steven Lawani who described the attack as unacceptable and highly condemnable.

Lawani who visited the lawmaker with top government functionaries, urged law enforcement officers to thoroughly investigate the unfortunate incident and bring the culprits to book to serve as deterrent to others.

While consoling the family, the Deputy Governor said: "Law enforcement officers must ensure a thorough investigation of this matter and also ensure that those behind this condemnable attack are brought to justice".

In his reaction, Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly, Mr. Terhile Ayua, who led other lawmakers to sympathies with their colleague, said the attack was unacceptable.

He noted that it was an attack on the entire legislative arm of the state government stressing that members of the House would also regard the unfortunate development as a direct affront on all members of the Benue State House of Assembly.

Hon. Ayua told newsmen that the unfortunate incident was bizarre and worrisome but urged security agencies in the state to unravel the masterminds of the attack.

The Speaker said: "This is a worrisome development and we condemn it in all ramifications, because we view this as a direct affront on the entire House and it is unacceptable".

He added: "We will however await the outcome of the investigations of law enforcement agencies in the state before we come out with an official position on the matter".

Recounting his experience, the victim of the attack, Hon. Terkimbi Ikyange, representing Ushongo constituency, said he went to bed at about 11pm on the fateful day only to be woken up around 1am by the scream of his wife that their cars were on fire and it was about engulfing the entire house.

He warned that this latest attack on him was a clear indication that the state was gradually descending into anarchy.

While pointing accusing fingers at the executive arm of government for the attack, the lawmaker said, "What we see happening today in Benue state is unfortunate, people are molested, harassed and intimidated for expressing their views on issues that concern the wellbeing of the state.

I expressed my views on the floor of the House on how funds are being expended by the executive arm of government without approvals of the House and I am attacked the following day. Is this what the people of the state expect from a government?"

Continuing, the minority whip said: "If a lawmaker is attacked with impunity, what then will be the fate of the ordinary citizens of our state? It is just unfortunate and heart rending. I urge law enforcement agencies to investigate this incident and apprehend the culprit".

Mr. Ikyange who said he was lucky to have escaped alive with his family said he lost two of his cars including his official car, a Toyata Avensis and his private Range Rover SUV to the arsonists.

He added that the masterminds of the attack had intended to eliminate his family through the fire but for God's interference.

When contacted, the Benue State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Deputy Superintendent of Police, DSP Daniel Ezeala confirmed the attack but added that investigations into the matter had commenced without any arrests made for now.

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