The APC-led Plateau State government and the opposition, PDP, have strong disagreement over the suspension of the chairman and deputy chairman of PDP-controlled Shendam Local Government by the council’s legislature. Interestingly, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau hails from the same local government. GOLOK NANMWA examines the issues in this report
Recently, the legislative council of Shendam Local Government of Plateau State suspended the chairman of the local government, Kemi Nshe, who got elected under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, about a year ago. The suspension notice of the legislature was delivered to the chairman after the sitting of the members at the legislative chambers in Shendam Local Government area of the state.
The letter of suspension, a copy of which was made available to newsmen in Jos, reads that thirteen of the councillors who made up the legislative council signed the letter of suspension. The letter of suspension reads in parts, “That you, the chairman of Shendam Local Government council, Nicholas Kemi Nshe, is guilty of gross misconduct and financial misappropriation.
“That also, the deputy chairman of Shendam Local Government, Hon. Noel Nkup, in your capacity as the Supervisory Councillor for Works is guilty of gross misconduct and financial misappropriation. The punishment of the allegation is indefinite suspension pending the outcome of the investigation”, the statement stated.
The notice which also contained details of the allegation indicates that the suspended officers have committed offenses bordering on transparency and accountability in their handling of some capital project of the council. With the suspension of the council chairman and his deputy, the third officer in the rank of the local government, Hon Chisantus Maigida, is to take over as the council boss in acting capacity. Hon Chrisnatus is the leader of the legislative arm representing Derteng Ward.
However, the chairman of the local government in the eye of the storm, Hon Nshe said the councilors have no power to suspend him from office, saying the action of the councillors is null and void and of no effect. Hon. Nshe said, “As far as I’m concerned, I remain the council chairman”.
Meanwhile, the Plateau State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party faulted the decision of the state government for enforcing what it described as illegal suspension of the council chairman by the council legislature. It disagreed that with the directive of the state government that the director of personal management should take over the day-to-day running of the affairs of the council knowing fully well that the local government law, Section 40, provides procedure for removing council chairman and deputy chairman. There is no provision for suspension of the chairman and deputy chairman of the council.
State publicity secretary of the party, Peter Shyepsuk, in a statement issued in Jos recently commended the state House of Assembly for its quick intervention in the crisis rocking the Shendam Local Government council between the executive and the legislative arms of government.
He added that his party had put in place mechanism towards quick resolution of the matter. It would be recalled that, the Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, had directed the embattled Shendam Local government chairman to hand over his office to the director of personnel of the local government council following his suspension by the legislative arm of the council.
Governor Lalong in a press statement issued through his director of press Emmanuel Nanle, said “Plateau State Governor, Simon Bako Lalong has directed the Director of Personnel Management to immediately take-charge and superintend over the administrative affairs of the Local Government Council’”.
According to Lalong’s media aide, the governor in this intervention has taken cognizance of the fact that the suspension is a legislative process guided by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and that a vacuum cannot be allowed in the leadership of the local government council.
Nanle added that the governor has further directed the Commissioner of Police to do the needful in ensuring that there is no breakdown of law and order in the local government area or interruption of the interim administrative set up given the current state of affairs.
He added that the governor was imploring all citizens, particularly residents of Shendam Local Government Area to remain calm while government would explore all avenues in seeing that the contending issues surrounding the suspension were amicably resolved. Shendam Local Government council is the country home of the state Governor Lalong.
In a related development, the leader of the legislative council of Shendam Local Government, Hon Chrisantus Maigida, has set up a committee to investigate the allegation of misappropriation of funds leveled against the chairman of the local government Hon Kemi Nshe. According to a statement signed by Hon Maigida, the leader stated that “A 5-man committee has been constituted by the legislature to commence full investigation into the allegations”.
The statement added that “The probe committee is chaired by Hon. Alkali Shindai, who is the deputy leader of the house representing Molkat ward.
“The probe committee is expected to submit its report in two weeks time”.
The chairman of the probe committee Hon Shindai encouraged those accused in the allegations to cooperate with the committee and promised to be fair to all parties. Meanwhile, the embattled chairman of the LGA, Hon. Nshe has written a letter to his party, the PDP, against his purported suspension by what he termed some members of the Shendam legislative arm.
A copy to the organising secretary which was made available to newsmen in Jos called on the party to rise up to the occasion in the over all interest of peace and unity of the local government. Nshe described his suspension as a fundamental breach of the law in view of the members’ decision to waive due legislative process to perpetrate their intended illegality.
According to the letter, there was neither the clerk of the house nor the sergeant at arms at the illegal sitting. In addition to that, they did not even form a quorum required for any meaningful decision to be taken by the legislature. He therefore called on the PDP and other relevant stakeholders to intervene in the crisis in order to prevent break down of law and order.