The search for political power in Benue State shifted from the polling units to the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Resident Electoral Commissioner in Benue State, Professor Istafanus Dafwang, in Makurdi this afternoon.
Governor Gabriel Suswam and Senator Barnabas Gemade were in the Commissioner’s office when Senator Dr George Akume and Chief Dr Samuel Ortom joined them.
In the office also were Prince Terhemen Tarzoor, Professor Iyorwuese Hagher, Ambassador Chive Kaave and several other political leaders.
The prologue to what followed seemed to be Chief Dr Ortom demanding greetings from Prince Tarzoor and stretching his hand towards him which the latter reciprocated and the two had a handshake.
Drama ensued when Professor Dafwang politely told the politicians that none of them was supposed to be in his office when results of elections in which they were candidates were being collated.
He said the law permitted only the presence of party agents at the office which had become a collation centre.
According to him even the state Governor had no right to be in his office at such a time but pointed out that as the Chief Security Officer of the state he would respond to his summons to appear in his office whenever requested to appear there with the state police commissioner.
To stress his point he knelt down behind his desk and pleaded that all should leave his office in the name of God.
The REC rebuffed Professor Hagher’s entreaties that he rise until he received assurances from the politicians that they would leave before he stood up.
Governor Suswam who said he would leave stated that he had come to complain that Senator Gemade had used soldiers and thugs to visit collation centres and alter results a charge the Senator refuted promptly.
As he rose to leave Senator Akume stated that he had come to appreciate what he described as the good work INEC was doing and solicited peaceful conduct of elections from all stakeholders saying all owed a duty to deepen democracy in the country.
When the politicians were leaving the office the Senate Minority Leader accosted Professor Hagher and told him that he had failed in his duty as an elder to play re conciliatory roles between Suswam and his opponents and rather taken sides with him which has led to his present predicament.
Surprisingly, Professor Hagher did not respond.
When the politicians got outside the building Senator Akume requested that they pose for a group photograph and that led to another dramatic encounter between Governor Suswam and Engr Benson Abounu.
The Governor jokingly remarked that the photo session was a Tiv affair and Engr Abounu said with Suswam’s remark he understood why he had treated him shabbily throughout his tenure inspite of contributions he made for his emergence as governor.
When Suswam replied that he made Engr Abounu’s wife High Court Judge, the APC governorship running mate retorted that she was chosen by the National Judicial Service Commission, NJC, in Abuja.
When someone reminded him that the Governor could have struck out the list of his wife from those who had been nominated for the position Engr Abounu stated that he didn’t because he couldn’t.