Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
An anti-corruption group, Initiative for Transparency (IT), has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to urgently investigate the Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom over alleged massive corruption in the state.
The group noted that the ongoing carnage in Benue being perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen has diverted the attention of the people from the corruption going on in the state.
The group also alleged that both the Paris Debt Refund and the Ecological Fund accruable to Benue State remains unaccounted for till date.
The convener of the group, Pastor Samson Ayodele, while addressing a press conference Sunday in Abuja, said the call became imperative so as to draw the attention of the international community to the fact that Benue State was dying from the inside slowly as a result of the non-stop theft of the state’s resources on a monumental scale.
Ayodele stated: “Under the guise of addressing the crisis in the state, Mr. Ortom has sharply increased the security spending of the state without result to show for it.
“The few projects that the governor claims to have executed are of the lowest quality imaginable while they cost more than four times the global pricing index.
â€œPublic sector workers in the employment of Benue State government have the rawest deal in the land as they perpetually remain unpaid for long stretches of time and are only paid fractions of what they are being owed as a means of releasing pent up anger when the people of the state are at breaking point.”
Continuing, Ayodele said: â€œImmunity did not stop the courts from granting EFCC’s request to freeze the bank account that Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose used to receive alleged proceeds of corruption so Benue State cannot be different.
â€œWe make this demand because there is credible information that the EFCC has all the evidence it needs to prove that Ortom has stolen another N18.8 billion, which the reason Benue workers cannot get salaries as at when due. It is the reason the state can never witness any positive development under the present administration of Samuel Ortom and his band of thieves.
â€œThe EFCC is presently investigating the governor for this fresh N18.830 billion which was withdrawn on his behalf by the trio of Oliver Mtom, Aorga Emmanuel and Ochoga Peter. The three suspects confessed to the EFCC two weeks ago that they truly withdrew the huge funds for the governor from Benue State accounts with UBA, GTB and First Bank.
â€œIn their admittance of culpability in the raiding of the state resources, Oliver Mtom confessed that he withdrew N18 billion; Aorga Emmanuel and Ochoga Peter confessed that they withdrew N700 million and N130 million respectively, amounting to the N18.830 billion that was stolen for only one person at a time workers and pensioners have not been paid for more than a year. This amount can cater for five months’ worth of workers’ salaries, which leaves us wondering why Ortom keeps lamenting that there is no money to pay salaries.
â€œIt is on the strength of the foregoing that we have found it imperative to expose the Ortom administration as a cesspit of corruption that it is. It is on this basis that we demand that the EFCC should step to the state and do its work as things would have taken an irreversible turn should the commission wait till the governor’s tenure is up for him to lose his immunity.”