SUSPENDED members of the Benue State House of Assembly, Kester Kyenge has disclosed that he would challenge his suspension in court and go to the highest level to seek redress. Kyenge, representing Logo State Constituency in Benue State, while speaking with newsmen in Abuja, said that he was being victimised for challenging certain ills in the state. Nigerian Pilot recalls that the lawmaker was suspended on Wednesday, July 21 for allegedly causing uproar in the chambers and calling for the resignation of the Speaker, Terkimbi Ikyange. According to him, the procedure through which he was suspended was completely faulty and the 5 months duration of the suspension was far beyond the 14 days that was stipulated by law, stressing that he would challenge the suspension and seek the restoration of his rights. kyenge said, “I have approached legal experts and within the next 24 hours: I should be able to take a stand. The entire process that took place on July 21 was faulty and illegal and should not hold. The court should be able to address the legitimacy or otherwise of the five months suspension,” he said. The lawmaker insisted that his suspension was pre- meditated and did not follow the due process required before a member is suspended no matter how grievous his offence. He explained that before any member is suspended for whatever allegation, the committee on ethics and privileges is asked to investigate it. He said that during the period of the investigation, the alleged member is being called upon to defend himself and if found guilty, is given the option of apologising to the House. He added that even if an erring lawmaker was not repentant, the stipulated number of days for suspension was two weeks (14 days). “On this day it wasn’t done so, the Speaker just threw the matter into voting, there was a voice vote, and during the course of the voice vote, those who were against my suspension overwhelmed the others. Now, the Speaker said that by his hearing, it was difficult to know, now he said it had to be raising of hands, which meant that it now became a party affair to whip everybody in line . “This also meant that if voting had tied for 14-14, his own vote would have been plus one. Whichever way, it was pre-meditated and I was already convicted abi initio: it is unprecedented. If a House Committee on Ethics throws in the report that is damning, it is usually two weeks suspension at which point, the person is called to show remorse. “I represent a constituency; it would be preposterous to assume that for five months, from now till the end of this calendar year, Logo would not be represented. The procedure
was wrong and a breach of my own fundamental human rights: first as a citizen and second as a member of the state house of assembly,” he said. Kyenge further alleged that he was being persecuted for daring to challenge the utilisation of the subsidy funds which the state government received from the Federal Government. He said that his stance that the alleged misappropriation of the Funds should be investigated was the major reason why he was being profiled and persecuted. He said that with the bail-out funds and a monthly loan of N1.3 billion given to the state monthly, the state still owed six months’ salary and even lawmakers were also being owed. “This whole thing is orchestrated from outside: the governor is behind this. I am profiled for daring to question the level of poverty and hunger in the land: I am profiled for daring to question the mal- administration of the bail-out funds. We have received loans in the state totaling almost N60 billion in one year approved by the assembly. “That is why I tell you that we have been convicted by the court of public opinion: as far as members of the public are concerned, we are conspirators in this sabotage. How long do we continue to indulge ourselves in this mess: you are not paid, you cannot talk, and that is my crime: saying the truth. If I do not speak, who else would speak? “So I feel that truth is on trial and not me, and I would be damned staying on the side of my constituents than conspiring with a few of my colleagues to rob my constituents of their commonwealth. This is my stand about it and I am ready to seek redress to the highest levels of the land,” he said. He called on all relevant agencies of government and persons in government to look into the matter of misappropriation of the bail- out funds as alleged by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC.