by James Sambo
Niger state governor, Babangida Aliyu, reportedly ordered his deputy, Alhaji Ahmed Ibeto, to cease from attending state executive council meetings, because of his recent defection from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress.
The governor also alleged that Ibeto called him a thief during one of his campaigns.
During the opening remark before the commencement of the regular weekly state executive council meeting on Wednesday, February 11, at Government House Minna, Aliyu said he would not preside over a meeting with the deputy in attendance.
Subsequently, he asked Ibeto to leave the council chambers, so he would not use information gathered at the meeting against the PDP. After Aliyu threatened to use the security agents against him, the deputy governor reportedly left the meeting.
However, a statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Israel Ebije, on Thursday, February 12, insisted that the deputy governor was not chased out of the meeting.
Ebije said the deputy governor had requested to abstain from the state executive council meetings and his demand was granted.
“The Deputy Governor, Ahmed Musa Ibeto, asked the council to excuse him from the Wednesday meeting when issues concerning the general elections were being presented. He is now in the opposition and the right thing to do, on moral grounds, was to leave the meeting.
“The deputy governor is smart enough to realise that he cannot sit in council and listen to the political strategies of the PDP or be seen either as a mole for the APC or as an unnecessary distraction. It is clear he cannot operate within the reasoning of the PDP-led council hence he had to take the most honourable decision.”
Meanwhile, the deputy governor described the statement as far from the actual truth, saying that the explanation did not paint the true picture of what happened at the council meeting.
Ibeto said that although he left the meeting after the governor had threatened to use the security against him, he was studying the relevant provisions of the constitution to know his next line of action.
“If this statement is coming from the government, let me react. It is not true that I excused myself. When I received notification for the council meeting of yesterday (Wednesday) I went as usual.”
“But before the council started, the governor in his opening remarks said that people and members of the executive council were aware that I have defected from the PDP to the APC and that we had gone on campaign round the state. He said that he had the information and clips that I called him a thief and that he would not preside over the council where I am sitting.”
“I objected and explained that I have never called him a thief and that everywhere we go, people always wanted to know why I defected to the APC and I have been telling them I left the PDP because of the injustice in the party.”
Furthermore, Ibeto added that the governor had no constitutional power to stop him from attending legitimate council meetings. He said: “I will challenge the governor’s undemocratic action in court appropriately. If I am stopped from attending council meetings, whatever decisions taken at such meetings are null and void.”