From Uche Nnorom Makurdi
Social cultural groups in Benue State have strongly protested against the planned and executed attacks and economic strangulation of Benue State citizens by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The organisations namely, Mdzough U Tiv led by Chief Edward Ujege, the Idoma National Forum headed by Barr. Amali Adoya Amali and comrade Benjamin Okpa, President General, Omi Ny’ Igede in a statement made available to Peoples Daily frowned at the recent freezing of the State account which almost completely rendered the operation of the state Government inactive.
The organizations also, decried the manner government officials are being invited daily to Abuja resulting in enormous cost arising from administrative and legal requirement of the state government to prove its case which is not based on solid evidence but an attempt to audit the account of Benue State Government.
According to them, “We were taken aback when it was announced that the EFCC went outside her statutory authority to call for the minutes of the Benue State Security Council. They are also attempting to probe the Benue State Government Security Vote which is well beyond the constitutional powers establishing the EFCC.
“We the three socio-cultural organisations in Benue State wonder why Benue State has been singled out for an unwholesome persecution and intimidation.
“However, if we look at the recent happenings in Benue State, whereby the Benue State House of Assembly was invaded and blocked by the personnel of the Nigerian Police and the Department of State Service (DSS) and only eight out of thirty members were allowed into the House of Assembly Chambers to attempt to impeach the Governor of Benue State; the political pronouncements by the Chairman of a political party, accusing the Government and by extension the people of Benue State of the killings in the state; the fact that the Governor defected from one political party to another and the vendetta against the Governor which is having adverse effect on our people; we begin to wonder whether the EFCC is not acting a political script. We believe that the agency has an ulterior motive otherwise the probe of security votes of Benue State should have commenced from 1999 to date and to cover all the states of the federation including that of the Federal Government.
“We are saying this because we think there should be equity and fair play. We expected that all the government agencies should act in such a way as to protect the citizens of Nigeria and not to be seen as political apparatus of doom.
“We are making this allegation because at the National Assembly, the personnels of the Department of State Services, DSS blocked and prevented the duly elected legislative members access from entering into the chambers. It was discovered that the instruction to block the National Assembly did not come from the Presidency but from the alleged political actors. This resulted in the termination of the appointment of the Director General, Department of State Services.
We, the three(3) main socio-cultural organisations want the world to understand that, the Benue State Government and by extension the citizens are being singled out for persecution, intimidation and victimization by the powers that be, using the Government apparatus.
“We, hereby call on the Presidency to intervene and stop this rot which is impoverishing the entire people of Benue State and creating wanton economic hardship.”