The Benue House of Assembly has approved the suspension of all 23 local government chairmen in the state for financial misappropriation.
The decision to suspend the local government chairmen was taken on Wednesday during plenary following a letter from Gov Hyacinth Alia, dated June 14, 2023, requesting the house investigate the incomes and expenditures of the 23 LG chairmen of the state.
In the letter, Gov Alia informed the house that he had received a report on the incomes and expenditures of the LG chairmen from February to April 2023, as submitted by themselves, and wished the house to investigate it for necessary recommendations.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Speaker of the House, Hyacinth Dajoh, therefore, set up an Adhoc Committee on June 20, 2023, comprising Peter Ipusu (Katsina-Ala West, APC) as the chairman, Manger Manger (Tarka, APC), and Cyril Ikong (Oju II, APC) as members, to investigate the matter.
The committee, which was directed to investigate and report back to the house within the shortest possible time, expressed worries over the outright disregard of procedure and the crass mismanagement of local government funds by the chairmen during the period under review.
The committee informed the House that there was a need for a more detailed investigation of the operations of the local government beyond the period under review and to cover June 2015 to May 2023.
The committee subsequently recommended the immediate suspension of the chairmen of all 23 local government councils and also the legislative councils for conniving with the executive council to mismanage public funds put in their trust.
After contributions from members in favour of the report, the House unanimously agreed to suspend the chairmen in order to enable it to do the investigation without any interference.
The Speaker directed the chairmen to hand over the affairs of their local government councils and all government properties in their possession, including official vehicles, to Directors-General of Services and Administration (DGSAs) with immediate effect and proceed on suspension, pending the completion of an investigation into their account books and other related matters.
The Speaker further directed that the governor proceed to set up caretaker committees in line with the Benue Local Government Law.
He also requested the Commissioner of Police to ensure a seamless takeover at the various local government council headquarters without any friction.