Vehicles allegedly belonging to some lawmakers were torched on Thursday at the Benue State House of Assembly by hoodlums who invaded the premises over the controversial pension bill.
Our correspondent reports that the state executive arm had recently proposed a bill to the assembly, seeking the passage of pensions for former governors of the state and their deputies.
The bill had already passed its first reading before the lawmakers went on recess.
But there was tension on Thursday after the news filtered into town that the lawmakers may likely reject or passed the bill as hoodlums took strategic position at the Assembly complex.
They allegedly smashed cars belonging to some lawmakers.
Recall that since Governor Samuel Ortom forwarded the Executive Pension Bill to the House of Assembly, there had been stiff opposition to its passage such that a non-governmental organisation even took the matter to court, seeking an injunction to restrain the lawmakers from acting on the bill.
A lawmaker, Terkaa Ucha, representing Tiev constituency, told journalists that, “My vehicle was not vandalised but I was penciled down to be harassed. I got the information and ran for my life.”
Ucha said that the leadership of the House however took over the tertiary bill which was referred to his committee to work on and pass into law, stressing that five bills were passed on Thursday.
“The bills include the amendment of the Benue Polytechnic, Akperan Orshi Polytechnic, College of Education Katsina Ala, and College of Education Oju, to make way for the Governor to appoint a rector without the approval of the Governing Council.
“What matters is that these bills were still under my care and I have never laid them on the floor of the House as in submitting of the report and so they went to my secretary, intimidated him and asked him to bring the bills without my consent. I have not signed it and neither did any of my members sign it but they went ahead and passed it,” he said.
Ucha however commenting on the Pension Bill, said, “The Pension Bill cannot be passed because the Governor is not pension friendly. He cannot pass that bill in Benue state. If he is pension friendly, we will know because my mother is a pensioner and my father died a pensioner.”
Also, the member representing Tarka constituency, Bem Ngutyor, who was in attendance of plenary, said he was not coerced into sitting but present on his own volition.
“We decided to pass the bill because it has to do with our tertiary Institutions. So, what we did was basically to amend laws that were already in place. Two polytechnics and three colleges of education and then we worked on the bill on widows Commission. We were about 17 members out of 30,” Ngutyor posited.
Similarly, the Press Secretary to the Speaker, Wuese Orshi, told journalists, explained that, “Some reports were laid and one was debated. We will continue tomorrow. The controversial bill was not passed.
“Bills are not passed in one day. It has not been considered. It has to go to second reading and sent to the relevant Committee to work on it, brought back and deliberated upon. So it’s a long process.
“That they are resuming sitting today does not mean that the bill will be passed. It’s not possible no bill was passed today. Every bill must go through a process, through readings and some bills even require public hearing.”
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