Alia: There’ll Be Consequences for Lying, Blackmail

George Okoh in Makurdi

Benue State Governor,  Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia, has stated that constructive criticism would be welcomed by his government but mischievous fabrication of lies and blackmail would not be tolerated.

In a press statement by his Press Secretary, Sir Tersoo Kula, the governor, yesterday,  said he was not in any way averse to constructive criticism and scrutiny, and that as a matter of fact, he cherished feedback in all he does with and for the public.

He said it was an established standard in legal parlance that, ‘he who asserts must prove’ and therefore, warned that people should not use cyberspace for negativity and mischief.

“When you assert unsubstantiated and baseless allegations against Alia and his government, just get ready to substantiate. This is not a threat. But we must be accountable, and we have accepted the challenge.

“Alia has made it abundantly clear that the use of thugs and hooligans to intimidate and coerce opposition into submission as was a norm in the past couldnever be endorsed and tolerated in his government. In Alia’s government, be assured that you will be provided an opportunity to substantiate whatever you assert,” he said.

Reacting to recent criticism bordering on performance by the main opposition party in the state, Alia said as a very responsible leader, he was a firm believer in the constitutional rights of citizens, including, the right to freedom of expression.

He, however, added that, “There is an apparent distinction between freedom of speech and mischievous fabrication, which  Nigeria’s laws permit the former but frowns at the latter.

“Therefore, the Governor is not oblivious of the main role of opposition in a democracy, which is to scrutinize government’s decisions, policies, and actions, and play oversight over the Executive and its public policies. He truly is very well at home with this.

“However, the opposition must argue responsibly. There must be decorum in all engagements, and this should be devoid of lies, fabrications and all shades of blackmail. We should be patriotic. If we all agreed that Benue is ours, then, we need to put our state first in all our considerations and undertakings.”

The statement noted that Alia  embodied the state, and that any negativity that affected his person, could have an adverse impact on the state.

“Perpetual villainous falsity against him will certainly affect the state and its machinery. In a desperate bid to caustically paint him black by libeling his hard-earned cheerful reputation, one may be scaring investors, development partners, donor agencies and even the federal government from sending interventions to the state believing, though wrongly, that the man in charge of the state cannot be trusted with such interventions. Then, who loses.

“Furthermore, spiteful concoctions ferociously spread on cyberspace under the pretext of political ‘activism’, no doubt have the tendencies to impugn the reforms brought in by the reverend gentleman. In a democracy, reforms sail through when the led believe them, and have confidence in the leader,” he said.

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