The 23 suspended local government chairmen in Benue State have dragged the Governor Hyacinth Alia-led State government to the National Industrial Court to seek enforcement of a court order that stopped their suspension.
The council chairmen who said they were unlawfully suspended or rather removed from office before the expiration of their term which is June 29, 2024, had dragged the state government to the industrial court which gave an order stopping their suspension.
The local government chairmen under the aegis of Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Benue State chapter had approached the court on the issue earlier in the year.
On June 15, the National Industrial Court sitting in Makurdi in a judgment delivered by the presiding judge, Justice I J Essien, in a suit marked NICN/MKD/31/2023, issued a direct order to the state Governor, the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, the State House of Assembly, the Attorney-General of the State, and the Special Adviser to Governor Alia on Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs (all of whom were the defendants) to desist from suspending the chairmen or dissolving their councils.
However, the aggrieved council chairmen in a statement issued on Thursday by the ALGON Secretary and Chairman of Katsina-Ala Local Government Area, Altera Alfred, said that “in a brazen manner and in utter contempt of court, they (the state government) went ahead on 23rd June (barely 8 days after the judgment) to not only suspend the elected chairmen but also the elected councillors, and appointed secretaries, and supervisors.”
The council chairmen further stated that “All the contemnors (the defendants in the suit who disobeyed the court order and are now in contempt of court) were represented in court today.
“Form 48 (notice of consequences of disobedience of court order) and Form 49 (notice to the contemnor— ie the parties in contempt of court—to show cause why an order of committal (to prison) should not be made against them) have duly been served on all of them, save for the Governor of Benue State.
“The court ordered same to be served to Office of Governor through Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and to appear in court personally on the next adjourned date where all contemnors are to show cause why an order of committal to prison for the disobedience of court order and holding the court in contempt should not be made against them.”
The National Industrial Court subsequently adjourned the matter to January 15, 2024.