The Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, George Akume, on Thursday, refuted allegations that he “violently assaulted” the Chairman of the Board of Benue Investment and Property Company, BBIPC, Chief Mike Mku.
Mku had alleged that the Minister physically assaulted him during the wedding ceremony of Benue’s paramount ruler, Tor Tiv, HRM Prof. James Ayatse’s son in Makurdi, the state capital recently.
Recounting what transpired, Mku alleged that during the wedding, Akume walked up to a table he shared with other illustrious sons of the state to exchange pleasantries and when he got to where he was seated, the Minister physically assaulted him.
He alleged that the Minister pushed him that he almost fell off after which he ordered his security aides to take him out of the venue of the wedding.
In a statement he personally signed, Mku said: “The report of the Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, having physically and violently assaulted me at the wedding of son to Tor Tiv, HRM Professor James Ortese Ayatse last Saturday in Makurdi, is true.
“The incident took place where I and a number of other illustrious Tiv sons sat at the wedding reception.
“I shared a table at the occasion with Chief Edward Ashiekaa, Chief Joseph Zendesha, Chief Jime Akaakar, Senator Jack Tilley Gyado, Arc. Dr. Philip Zegetar Iyortyer and some others, and it was at that table that the physical assault on me by Senator Akume occurred.
“The Minister had approached our table and we all stood to exchange pleasantries with him, and one after the other he shook hands with and even hugged some of those my table mates I have mentioned.
“However, when he got to me and I made to shake hands with him, he abruptly shoved me violently in the chest almost knocking my over backwards.
“In shock I protested and asked him why he behaved so, but he proceeded to order his security orderly to take me out of his sight as he angrily waged a finger in my face prompting the security man to move towards me.
“At this point, I angrily told the security man not to come near me before those around us moved in and joined by others they made several appeals to Senator Akume and eventually took him away from the scene.
“This violent assault on my person by the Minister was totally unprovoked and I do not understand why he should hold any grudge against me at all.
“For what reason then should Senator Akume hold me in such contempt as to assault and humiliate me in public?
“In the interest of peace and the unity of the Tiv nation where we both belong I have taken the matter to the Traditional leadership institution rather than seek legal remedy.”
However, an aide to the Minister, Comrade Austin Agada, who witnessed what occurred on the said day, dismissed Mku’s allegations.
Agada disclosed that Akume upon arrival went round greeting dignitaries seated including those he had political differences with in the past.
He stated that on getting to the table the BBIPC Board Chairman was seated, he tried to forcefully hug Akume who refused and this led to Mku muttering some derogatory comment in Tiv language.
Agada stated that security details attached to Akume on sighting that the BBIPC Chairman was trying to harass Akume immediately intervened.
“I was there myself, I witnessed the situation so I’m surprised that such an elderly man could be saying such. Mku was forcing himself to greet and harass the Minister. Akume was moving around greeting people and instead of waiting for Akume to get to him, Mku stood up and rushed as if he was trying to bring down the Minister but security details stop him. At this point, he started using some vulgar words on the Minister and the DSS attached to the Minister stopped him from having access while Akume continued greeting other dignitaries at the event. Those present saw what happened and were not happy.
“I’m surprised that Mku is twisting the whole story, he has not been on the same political party with the Minister so I really don’t know his motive, but it’s unfortunate that an elderly man could behave in such a manner.
“You know the Minister was representing President Muhammadu Buhari at the event and not just as a son of Tiv nation, so I’m surprised that Mku could be making such a claim. I think Mku wants recognition in some certain level or maybe he wants the governor or whoever in PDP to make him look important or gives him money.
“There were people that had political issues with the Minister like former Minister Iyorchai-Ayu but he greeted them so why would his own be different? The Minister personally greeted even those he brought up and they hurt him in return so why won’t he greet Mku with whom they hail from the same place and he had previously floored in all elections they contested together. There was no basis for the Minister to be angry with Mku or to ask that he be removed when it’s not the Akume’s event,” Agada said.