Members of the Benue State House of Assembly have impeached their Speaker, PREMIUM TIMES has learnt.
Terkimbi Ikyange, representing Ushongo state constituency, was impeached at the plenary on Tuesday.
Audu Sule, the House deputy majority leader who confirmed the development to PREMIUM TIMES Tuesday afternoon, said Mr Ikyange was impeached for alleged high-handedness and failure to carry the members along in the activities of the House.
"We found out that we could no longer work with him," Mr Sule said. He did not immediately cite cases of high-handedness or intransigence against Mr Ikyange to PREMIUM TIMES.
The lawmaker said 23 out of the 30-member parliament impeached Mr Ikyange.
Incidentally, all the 23 members belong to the Peoples Democratic Party, fueling speculations that Mr Ikyange's impeachment was because he had become a minority Speaker.
Mr Ikyange, 37, was first elected to the House in 2011. He was reelected in 2015 and was subsequently elected Eighth Speaker. He remained in the All Progressives Congress despite recent mass defection of members from the party to the PDP.
Several members of the APC in the House had decamped to the PDP in recent weeks, apparently in anticipation of the defection of Governor Samuel Ortom, who had himself declared intention to abandon the party. Mr Ortom, however, said last week that he was still exploring his move after meeting with the national leadership of the APC in Abuja.
The impeachment of Mr Ikyange came hours after a wave of defection hit the APC at the national level. At least 15 senators and 36 members of the House of Representatives abandoned the party earlier on Tuesday, amidst claims of marginalisation and victimisation.
Mr Sule, however, told PREMIUM TIMES the Speaker's impeachment had nothing to do with his failure to cross carpet to the PDP with others.
"It does not matter whether you are in the majority or minority," Mr Sule said. "If we find you competent and appealing enough to lead us, we will work with you and keep you as our Speaker."