The Deputy Governor of Niger state, Ahmed Ibeto, has denied claims that his boss, Governor Babangida Aliyu, appointed the speaker of the state assembly acting governor because he (Ibeto) is away in Saudi Arabia for lesser Hajj.
Mr. Aliyu, who is currently abroad, had Thursday said Mr. Ibeto travelled to Saudi Arabia without permission, thereby leaving him with no choice than to hand over the reigns of government to Speaker Adamu Usman.
Speaking for Mr. Aliyu Thursday, his spokesperson, Israel Ebije, had said, “The deputy Governor was not in any way snubbed by the governor on the decision to make the Speaker acting governor. Ibeto left the state for Umrah without exhausting the necessary procedure of approval from the Governor before travelling.
“The deputy Governor is aware his boss was also preparing to embark on a journey too but left. It is therefore instructive to intimate that his hasty decision to leave left the Niger State Governor no choice but to make the speaker acting governor,” Mr. Ebije said.
However, Mr. Ibeto told PREMIUM TIMES through an aide, Sani Umar, that he was actually in his house in Minna, the state capital, when Governor Aliyu handed over to the Speaker.
“The truth of the matter is that the Deputy Governor only travelled to Abuja for an APC meeting on Tuesday and came back immediately after the event,” Mr. Umar said.
He said although Mr. Ibeto had written to the governor seeking permission to travel for lesser hajj, “the governor did not even touch his letter of request before jetting out himself”.
He said the governor’s refusal to respond to his request made Mr. Ibeto to shelve his trip.
“Even after the speaker was made acting governor, some persons closed to the deputy governor advised him to go ahead with his trip since it is apparent he will not be busy in the state, but he declined insisting that it will not be wise for both the governor and himself to travel out of the country even if the speaker is acting,” Mr. Umar said.
Mr. Ibeto and his boss have been engaged in a cat and mouse game since his defection to the opposition All Progressives Congress early this month.
There were reports last week that Mr. Aliyu asked his deputy to stop attending meetings of he state executive council.
But both officials later said it was the deputy governor himself who requested to be excused from any state executive meeting where political matters are to be discussed.