Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari at the periodic meeting of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum at the State House Conference Centre, Abuja. Photo by Abayomi Adeashida
GUSAU — The Department of State Service, DSS, has detained, in Abuja, Speaker of Zamfara State House of Assembly, Sanusi Rikiji, his deputy, Muhammad Gumi and other principal officers of the Assembly allegedly on the order of Governor Abdulaziz Yari over impeachment move against him.
The Voice of America, Hausa Service, reported, yesterday, that the lawmakers were in detention in Abuja after the governor accused them of plotting to impeach him.
Others arrested include the House Majority Leader, Isah Abdulmumini, and the Chief Whip, Abdullahi Dansadau.
Trouble was said to have began for the lawmakers after the Assembly called for a special sitting with Governor Yari to discuss what it called “the difficult situation the state found itself,” especially as regards governance of the state and how to find a way out.
However, the lawmakers said the governor misunderstood their mission and assumed that it was just a ploy to impeach him, hence his decision to order their arrest and detention.
One of the lawmakers, Umaru Faru, told the VOA that everyone knew the precarious situation that the state had found itself.
He said: “People accuse the governor of abandoning the state, and they are also complaining about the handling of the state resources, especially the bailout funds released specifically to pay workers’ salaries.
“The money came but no one knows what happened to it. As we speak, local government staff, pensioners have not been paid, in fact, our traditional rulers have not been paid their five per cent constitutional allocation for several months, civil servants pay was cut and some of them were even sacked because of dwindling revenue. However, they were not paid their entitlement even after the bailout came. That is why we invited them, definitely not for impeachment purposes.”
Reports also said the remaining lawmakers have fled the state and were taking refuge in Kaduna State for fear of arrest.
Lawmakers accuse Yari of abuse of office
The lawmakers issued a statement late on Tuesday asking President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene, and accused Yari of abuse of office.
The statement, which was signed by the Chairman, House Committee on Information, Mannir Gidan Jaja, accused the governor of mismanagement of local government funds.
However, the state Commissioner of Information, Umaru Bukkuyum, denied that the lawmakers were in detention.
He said the lawmakers were “just invited to Abuja for a meeting on how to find solution to all the problems.”
But the State House of Assembly, yesterday, listed six impeachable offences committed by the governor, citing them as reasons for pushing for his impeachment.
A statement issued in Gusau by the Chairman of the Assembly’s Committee on Information, Mannir Gidan-Jaja, accused the governor of misappropriating billions of naira from the state coffers.
It listed the money allegedly misappropriated to include N11 billion bailout fund, N1 billion agricultural loan released to the state by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and “corrupt abuse of local government funds.”
The Assembly also accused the governor of failing to remit funds deducted for pensions and gratuities to pension fund administrators as provided by law.
According to the statement, the governor had also ignored a resolution of the Assembly not to appoint Murtala Jangebe as chairman of the state Universal Basic Education Board.
It said the assembly had passed a vote of no confidence on Jangebe, after he was allegedly found to have misappropriated over N1 billion belonging to the board in 2014.
The statement accused the governor of frequent foreign trips which had had negative impact on the day-to-day running of government, apart from imposing financial burden on the state.
Lawmakers condemn the arrest
The lawmakers condemned the arrest of the Speaker, his Deputy, Majority Whip and supporting staff of the assembly by the Department of State Services, describing the arrest as a clear interference with the functions of the legislature as enshrined in the constitution.
The statement urged President Buhari to caution the DSS against further interference in the matter.
“We are also demanding the unconditional release of our principal officers who are currently under detention with the DSS in Abuja,” the statement added.
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