Gov Alia has recruited thugs to go after critics in Benue

Gov Alia has recruited thugs to go after critics in Benue

A group known as Defenders of Democracy, DoD has condemned the decision of the Benue State Governor, Hyacinth Alia to recruit young men with questionable backgrounds from the 23 local government areas of the state to form the task force on levies.

In a statement by its President Amos Uchiv, DoD described the task force as a strike squad given the mandate to clampdown on critics of Governor Alia.

The statement reads:

“In a shocking display of authoritarianism and disregard for democratic principles, Governor Hyacinth Alia of Benue State has unleashed a brazen attack on freedom of speech and political dissent by inaugurating a group masquerading as the “Task Force on Illegal Levies.” Under the guise of combating unlawful fees, this task force is nothing more than a tool for silencing critics and stifling opposition to the Alia administration.

“The selection of youths, many of whom are notorious thugs and hooligans, from the 23 local government areas of the state by Gbenda Terver, the Senior Special Assistant on Youth Organisation and Illegal Levies, raises serious concerns about the true intentions behind this move. It is evident that Governor Alia is using these youths as enforcers to intimidate and harass anyone who dares to criticize his government or express alternative viewpoints.

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“Many of the young men selected to form the “task force” are men of questionable character in their various communities.

“Recall that Governor Alia recently vowed to cut the finger of anyone who criticizes his administration. The launch of the group of thugs selected from the 23 local government areas of the state is the actualization of that vow by a man who should be seen as a peace builder.

“By resorting to such a repressive tactic, Governor Alia has demonstrated a complete lack of respect for the fundamental principles of democracy and the rule of law. Instead of fostering an environment where diverse opinions can be freely expressed and debated, he has chosen to silence dissent through coercion and fear.

“Governor Alia’s actions not only undermine the basic rights of the citizens of Benue State but also set a dangerous precedent for the erosion of democratic norms and values. In a healthy democracy, leaders should welcome criticism and engage in constructive dialogue with their opponents, rather than resorting to intimidation and suppression.

“Defenders of Democracy strongly condemns the launch of this anti-people group made up of well known thugs!

“We urge Governor Alia to immediately disband the group and caution them against constituting themselves as a nuisance to the public.

“We call on the police, DSS and other security agencies to closely monitor the activities of these individuals with the intent of preventing them from carrying out their planned dastardly acts against critics of the government. The beauty of democracy is when there is freedom of speech”, DoD stated.