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Benue PDP Advises Governor Against Crackdown on Critics


By Grace Chigbu

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Benue State has offered strong counsel to Governor Hyacinth Alia, cautioning him against pursuing a crackdown on individuals critical of his leadership style, which the party contends infringes on democratic principles. The PDP has characterized such a course of action as detrimental to democratic ideals.

Adding to their stance, the PDP vehemently denounced the Nigeria Police Force’s refusal to grant bail to one of their members, Paul Terhemba Gyenger, who was apprehended and is presently detained at the state police command in Makurdi.

Bemgba Iortyom, the State Publicity Secretary of PDP, conveyed this sentiment during a media interaction in Makurdi. He revealed that Gyenger’s arrest in Makurdi was followed by his detention, stemming from an alleged petition lodged by Governor Alia. The Governor claimed defamation in connection with a social media post made by the detained PDP activist concerning the federal government’s subsidy removal palliatives allocated to the state.

Iortyom emphasized, “PDP warns Governor Alia to shelve any idea of a crackdown on its members and other citizens who criticise his ‘one man regime,’ which is a crime against democracy, and retrace his steps to the path of due process and rule of law, in his best interest and that of the state.”

Barr Clement Mue, the Benue PDP State Legal Adviser, corroborated the party’s standpoint. During an interview with journalists in Makurdi, he disclosed his efforts to secure Gyenger’s release from police custody. However, he encountered resistance as an officer indicated that securing bail for the suspect over the weekend was virtually impracticable.

“As a lawyer, I have to come back and wait till Monday to file a case. To my knowledge, a case of defamation is civil in nature. If my client is in police custody from Friday to Monday, it will have been more than 72 hours, which is against the law of the land,” Barr Mue explained.

In response to PDP’s assertions, Morgan Ihomun, the State Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), voiced the stance of his party. He underscored the openness of both Governor Alia and the APC to constructive criticism aimed at enhancing the democratic process. Ihomun emphasized that criticism itself holds value but underlined the importance of substantiating allegations.

Governor Alia’s administration remains receptive to critiques that contribute positively to governance and democracy. However, unfounded allegations or misinformation will warrant accountability, Ihomun clarified.

The exchange of viewpoints highlights the robust dynamics in Benue State’s political landscape. As various parties engage in discourse surrounding governance, accountability, and democratic principles, the state’s future trajectory remains a subject of significant interest. While the PDP seeks to safeguard democratic values and raise concerns about arrests and detentions, the APC underscores the importance of constructive dialogue that drives progress while holding individuals accountable for their assertions.

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