APC crisis: Groups condemn alleged ‘executive blackmail’ in Benue

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A coalition of civil society groups has strongly condemned what they describe as “executive blackmail” targeting Chief Justice Maurice Ikpambese in Benue State.

They asserted that this is a calculated scheme orchestrated by Governor Hon. Hyacinth Iormen Alia, spearheaded by former Governor Gabriel Suswam, to remove Ikpambese from his position and interfere with the removal of Benue State APC Chairman Comrade Austin Agada.

The coalition highlighted irregularities in the injunction against Benue State APC Chairman Austin Agada, which restricted him from carrying out his lawful activities.

They pointed to the abrupt arrangement without proper legal procedures, a matter that was subsequently addressed by His Lordship Justice Maurice Ikpambese.

Justice Ikpambese ruled that the case would be appropriately assigned to another judge for further consideration on its merits.

According to the coalition, the direct exparte served instead of a prior notice of summons, paid for by Hon. Michael Oglegba, Commissioner for Finance Benue State under Governor Hyacinth Iormen Alia’s instruction, involved collusion from Chief of Staff to the Governor Hon. Paul Biam, Livinus Tsar, and President of the Customary Court of Appeal, Justice Cosmas Idye.

Expressing concern over what they see as an attempt to manipulate the justice system, the coalition emphasized questionable decisions, such as the assignment of Justice Lilian Tsumba, who is not the lead justice at the Divisional High Court in Aliade, Benue State.

The coalition decried that it finds it troubling that an injunction was secured in Aliade when the involved parties are based in the state capital of Makurdi. They call for urgent answers to address these concerns in Benue State.

Further investigations by the coalition revealed that the money approved by the Governor for this purpose was not paid in full to Honourable Justice Lilian Tsumba.

This has reportedly created tension between the Governor and his Commissioner for Finance, as Justice Tsumba is seeking the balance for the services rendered.

“The Governor’s persistent misuse of taxpayers’ money to sponsor the removal of Comrade Austin Agada as APC Chairman in Benue State and Chief Justice Maurice Ikpambese as Chief Judge of Benue State is reprehensible,” the coalition states. They argue that public funds are being diverted for what seems to be a politically motivated agenda rather than serving the public interest.

Emphasizing the gravity of the situation, the coalition pointed to the detrimental impact on the state’s financial resources and the violation of trust between the government and its citizens. They express serious ethical concerns about the misuse of public funds, suggesting a disregard for proper resource allocation and a potential abuse of power.

Calling for transparency and accountability in government spending, the coalition asserted that taxpayer money should benefit society rather than personal or political interests.

The coalition called for a comprehensive examination of the financial transactions related to the removal of Comrade Austin Agada and Justice Maurice Ikpambese.

Additionally, the coalition has brought the matter to the attention of the National Judicial Council (NJC), urging the council to fulfill its responsibility of disciplining judicial officers.

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