George Okoh in Makurdi
The All Progressive Congress (APC) in Benue State has expressed dismay over the recent attacks by the Benue State Governor, Mr. Samuel Ortom, on the Minister for Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affair, Senator George Akume, stating that the attacks were mere plot to tarnish and work against the chances of Akume to emerge as chairman of the APC.
The party also accused Ortom of writing a spurious corruption petition to the Economic and Financial Crime Commision (EFCC) against Akume to cover up his failure to provide developmental leadership for the state.
The State Chairman of the APC, Mr. Augustine Agada, while briefing reporters yesterday said the attacks on “our leader has been brewed consistently over time and intermittently unleashed on him with great mischief. But while we may have tolerated this bashing for so long, the governor has again embarked on a dangerous campaign of calumny, trying so desperately run down the towering profile of Senator Akume, who is one of the very few Nigerian past governors without criminal records.
“The target of this campaign of calumny, we ultimately know, is to lower Senator Dr. George Akume who is highly celebrated by many Nigerians in the eyes of the public thereby, weakening his chances of emerging as the national chairman of the APC, now that majority of APC members across all states of the federation are clamouring for his emergence to the position.
He said that the fraud allegation currently leveled against Akume by Ortom and his administration is clearly an act of political witch-hunt.
“Why conjure a haphazard probe report about the Akume administration of many years now, same government had leveled N107 billion allegation against the Gabriel Suswams administration but later nullified same; will the same government not overrule itself tomorrow over these frivolous reports that seek to indict Senator Akume today?”
He said the allegation was another diversionary tactics of raising unfounded claims and excuses, each time money comes into the state.
He recalled that the day it was confirmed that the federal government has made available another tranche of over N 18 billion bailout to Benue State, Ortom has become strangely more loquacious and hostile, not just to his benefactor, Senator Akume but also to the Benue civil servants and pensioners that he has refused to pay their salaries and pensions; the internally displaced persons that he has described as thieves stealing his cassava from the farm and now, rudely referring to all Benue people as drunkards.
In a reaction to the statement of the APC, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) Benue State Chapter, has said that it has observed views raised by the APC against Governor Samuel Ortom and his administration, chiefly among which is the issue of the audit report which recently unearthed cases of gross financial offences against George Akume during his tenure as Governor of Benue State from 1999 to 2007.
According to Spokesman of the PDP, Mr. Bemgba Iortyom, It is the position of Benue PDP that Akume should do the honourable needful by availing himself to answer to those cases of financial crimes so unearthed against him by the audit rather than resorting to sponsoring press conferences by a neophyte whose status is still unclear even within his party, the APC.