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By NBF News
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The Benue State House of Assembly became a battle field last Friday when the Tiv and Idoma legislators engaged themselves in a free-for-all over the recent recruitment exercise into the Federal Road Service Commission (FRSC).

Reason for the fisticuff Daily Sun gathered was the alleged predominance of Idoma indigenes against the Tivs on the recruitment list even though it was gathered that the examinations followed due process.

During its first extra-ordinary session on Friday in which the sector commander of the FRSC in the state was invited to the House, the Tiv and Idoma legislators staged a war of words which witnessed a walkout by Idoma legislators and ended with the Tiv lawmakers condemning the FRSC recruitment exercise.

Daily Sun investigation revealed that the controversy at the Terseer Tsumba led 6th Assembly was sparked off by a letter written by Martha Gberikyo, the Federal Character Commission, Benue State Coordinator dated December 8 with reference number FCC/BN/SRF/C/42/Vol.1/77 to the Benue State governor, the House of Assembly and the sector commander of FRSC claiming that the command violated the principles of federal character on employment.

In the said letter, Gberikyo said: 'We are shocked that after writing the examination, you came out with the interview list where Zone 'A' and 'B' with 14 local councils have 19 candidates while Zone 'C' with 9 local councils have 61 candidates,' just as she threatened to report the sector commander if he fails to re-compile the list to accommodate Tiv interests in the state as represented by the 14 local councils.

However, a senior officer with the FRSC who would not want his name in prints told Daily Sun that the FRSC recruitment test in Makurdi, like in other parts of the country, were conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB).

He disclosed that the examiners who came from JAMB office, Abuja, administered the FRSC recruitment test and took the scripts away without the interference of FRSC officials based in Makurdi while all sector commanders were swapped to ensure a transparent exercise.

'The interview session for the FRSC recruitment exercise was conducted after JAMB sent the results to the FRSC headquarters from all the states of the federation. To ensure that the interview process was not compromised, all the FRSC sector commanders were swapped. The Ekiti State sector commander led other officials to conduct the exercise in Benue State,' our source said.

He revealed further that Nigerians who purchased forms for the FRSC recruitment exercise did so in their states of domicile, adding that all Nigerians who wrote the examinations had the interviews in their states of domicile.

Our source noted that the Federal Character Commission, Benue State office also participated in the recruitment exercise, stressing that their officials were at the written examinations and took part in the interview session alongside the military and para-military agencies in Benue State who sent representatives to observe proceedings.

At the Friday extra-ordinary sitting, the House ruled that the FRSC should cancel the exercise, while the Benue State FRSC sector commander should be re-deployed for failing to have his loyalty on the Benue State government that accommodates him.

When contacted for his comment on the matter, Sector Commander of FRSC in the state, Sunday Oghenekaro said he could not comment on the recruitment exercise, but however maintained that he had not done anything to breach the federal character principles.

In January 2009, the Benue State House of Assembly had condenmed the recruitment exercise of the Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS), on the discovery that more Idoma indigenes were employed than Tiv people. But despite the protest by the House, the recruitment exercise stood as it was discovered that the prisons authority had strictly followed the laid down guidelines.

In a swift reaction, the Idoma National Forum (INF) had warned the state House of Assembly to stop its tirade and campaign of calumny against the Idoma nation, saying that it would not sit on the fence and watch any group, person or political party that would support the alienation of the Idoma people.

Addressing a press conference in Makurdi on Tuesday, Chairman of the forum, Mr. Aju Ameh vowed that the Idomas would resist and mobilize against any person whose only interest was to ensure the Idomas does not take what rightfully belongs to them, warning that the Idomas know their rights and would protect it with their blood.

Aju, who wondered if those recruited from the Idoma speaking areas that the House was protesting their recruitment were not Benue indigenes or if they are not qualified to be recruited on their own merit, insisted that if the issue of majority tribes was taken into consideration, no Benue indigene would qualify to have any chance in the federal establishment .

While citing several instances where Idoma positions had been given to Tivs, Aju expressed worry that the state House of Assembly did not see anything wrong nor raise an eye brow when the state government under the leadership of Governor Gabriel Suswam would replace any Idoma person stepping down from office with a Tiv person without minding the political imbalance so created.