Tremor has fill the political atmosphere in Zanfara State as Governor Abdulaziz Yari ordered the State Security Services (SSS) to arrest the Speaker of House of Assembly, Sanusi Rikiji, his deputy, Muhammad Gumi and other principal officers of the Assembly.
The Voice of America Hausa Service reported Wednesday that the lawmakers were in detention in Abuja after the governor accused them of plotting to impeach him from office.
Others arrested include the House majority leader, Isah Abdulmumini, and the chief whip of the house, Abdullahi Dansadau.
Trouble began for the lawmakers after the assembly called for a special sitting with Governor Yari to discuss what it called “the difficult situation the state found itself” especially as regards governance of the state and how to find a way out.
However, the lawmakers said the governor misunderstood their mission and assumed that it was just a ploy to impeach him, hence his decision to order their arrest and detention.
One of the lawmakers, Umaru Faru, told the VOA that everyone knows the precarious situation that the state has found itself, saying “people accuse the governor of abandoning the state, and they are also complaining about the handling of the state resources especially the bailout funds released specifically to pay workers’ salaries”.
“The money came but no one knows what happened to it, as we speak local government staff, pensioners have not been paid, in fact, our traditional rulers have not been paid their 5% constitutional allocation for several months, civil servants pay was cut and some of them were even sacked because of dwindling revenue, however, they were not paid their entitlement even after the bailout came.
“That is why we invited them, definitely not for impeachment purposes,” he said.
Reports also say the remaining lawmakers have fled the state and were taking refuge in Kaduna state for fear of arrest.
The lawmakers issued a statement late on Tuesday asking President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene, and accused Mr. Yari of abuse of office.
The statement, which was signed by the Chairman, House Committee on Information, Mannir Gidan Jaja, accused the governor of “corrupt usage of local government funds for state purposes”.
They also accuse him of being unable to explain how the N1 billion commercial agriculture loan given to the state by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, was utilized.
They equally accused him of “non-remittance of pension funds to pension administrators, non-remittance of 5 percent emirate councils funds, the gross misappropriation of bailout funds to the state by the federal government to settle workers’ salaries, including N10b for 2014 and N1.46b in 2016”.
The lawmakers said Zamfara was almost crippled owing to the governor’s frequent trip abroad, and that instead of addressing the issues they raised, the governor “resorted to political intimidation, arrest and detention of principal officers of the House and other supporting staff”.
However, the state commissioner of information, Umaru Bukkuyum, denied that the lawmaker were in detention.
Mr. Bukkuyum said the lawmakers were “just invited to Abuja for a meeting on how to find solution to all the problems”.