SUSWAM WANTS ME DEAD
Being text of a Press Release by Rommy Mom Esq, President, Lawyers Alert
After the flood that displaced thousands of citizens in Benue state, the Federal Government of Nigeria, living up to its obligation of the provision of social rights to the people, donated N500m to the Benue State Government to distribute to the victims so as to ameliorate their sufferings and aid them in living with the dignity of humans.
Almost a year after this donation and several others from Philanthropists and other State Governments to Benue, the Benue State Government is yet to either release the money to the victims or make a statement to the victims and Benue people as to the status of the awaited assistance.
I, against this background, approached the Court using the Freedom of Information Law to compel the Benue State Emergency Agency, BSEMA, to give an account of the money regarding expenses and how the funds have been disbursed, if at all. BSEMA in its defense stated that the Governor Suswam led Administration did not release a dime of the flood assistance sum to it.
I will emphasize here that BSEMA is the statutory Agency saddled with the responsibility of administering these kind of support.
GOVERNOR SUSWAM’S REACTION
Yesterday the 28th day of May 2013, in a phone in program on Radio Benue, the Governor made disparaging comments on my person that in politically tense environment like Benue can be interpreted as an invitation for attacks on my person, and I do now have a real fear as to my safety and life.
The Governor said of me, “someone who calls himself a lawyer sued me to Court to account for the flood money.” He called me “ignorant” “foolish” etc in his response to the suit I filed. He choose to denigrate my person, misrepresent facts, rather than speak to the issues.
I feel threatened and have a real fear for my life for the following reasons:
I did not sue the Governor of Benue State, nor did I sue Gabriel Suswam. My suit was against BSEMA. For the Governor who is a lawyer to deliberately misrepresent the facts to the people of Benue was in my opinion mischievous and with intent to put me in harms’ way.
In a state like Benue and a country like Nigeria where a person who is seen as an “enemy” to incumbents is eliminated or attacked to please benefactors, Suswam deliberately choose his words to achieve this.
He knows I have not sued the Governor, and I could have if I felt he is a desirable party to the suit. He is not, and him lying to the people that I sued him, was with an intent that is not noble.
2. The Governor stated that I claim to be a Lawyer. This is also an invitation of harm to me. He is sending a message of what he thinks of me which is to say the least, not much and I can be treated as such by attack dogs sympathetic to the Governor.
The unfortunate thing is that the Governor knows I am a Lawyer. I was the Chairman of the Makurdi Bar Association in the year Suswam became Governor. I invited him for the Bar Dinner and awards night which he attended. At this point, he was giving Makurdi a new look by provision of township roads and I gave him an award for this.
More telling is that when Suswam was a law student, he had a stint of internship in the same law firm where I happened to be working as a lawyer, Andzenge & Associates law firm. Suswam and I go a long way, over 20 years. I call him Gab, he calls me Rommy. For Suswam to therefore tell the people of Benue State that I claim to be a lawyer, I reiterate is for the purposes of fingering me for attack.
3. Lastly, my suit was in exercise of my rights as a citizen. Governor Suswam, my learned colleague and friend knows this. For him to therefore go on Radio and give the impression that I am doing something wrong and harassing him is at the least unfortunate. I did not sue him.
BSEMA and I are still in Court. The proper thing would have been for my learned colleague the Governor to have kept his peace and waited for the outcome of the suit, or given directives for the flood money to be disbursed rather than paint me as a gadfly.
I respect His Excellency Gabriel Suswam. He is intelligent. This accounts for my fear that he wants me harmed. He has put my life at risk. When the Governor comes out and misrepresents facts about a citizen, expresses anger and calls such a citizen names, we all know he is in effect pointing out such a citizen out for attack. That is politics in Nigeria and unfortunately in Benue.
Deep down I prayed Suswam would have seized the moment and disbursed the funds even before the case was due for hearing. This would have brought cheers, joy, admiration and respect for His Excellency. It is not too late. I still pray for this to happen.
In the meantime, I call on the Governor to publicly assure me of my safety as the Chief Security Officer of the State. I call for your prayers.
I have taken the liberty of a citizen in danger to inform the International Freedom of Information Network and other International community Agencies, National NGOs, the Inspector General of Police, the Commissioner of Police Benue and my friends on several listserves and networks, of my anxiety, fear and concerns.
I still am in court with BSEMA and will be till the determination of the suit. So help me God
Rommy Mom Esq
29th May 2013