Gov. Ortom Commends EFCC For Investigating Members Of The State House Of Assembly Over N750m Car Faud

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, yesterday commended operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for investigating the Speaker and other members of the state House of Assembly for allegedly misappropriating N750 million meant for purchase of official cars.

The governor said his government would not condone any act of criminality or defend anyone who had a hand in fraud.

Recall that the Speaker of Benue State House of Assembly, Terkinbi Ikange; his deputy, James Ikefe; the Majority Leader, Benjamin Adanyi; Deputy Majority Leader, Nick Eworo; the Minority Leader, Sule Audu and 10 other members were arrested and detained on Monday in Abuja by the EFCC.

It was gathered that though they were let off the hook via bail on Wednesday evening after spending three days in detention, another seven members had been summoned by Commission to appear for questioning today (Friday).

Answering questions from State House Correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential Villa, Abuja, Governor Ortom said in a matter of corruption, no one would be spared.

Ortom also vowed to recover N107 billion looted from the state treasury by the government of Governor Gabriel Suswam.

He said: “Yes it is a good thing, it is part of the process. They are under investigation by the EFCC. From day one I brought up a slogan that ‘if you chop money, money will chop you.

“We have to be careful and I have sent signals to all that nobody is above the law. If you do wrong, you will go your own way. As far as I’m concerned, they are under investigation. Let’s see the outcome we would have. As far as I’m concerned, my government will not shield anybody who is corrupt and who is found wanting. From myself as governor and every other lieutenant, we are opened to scrutiny.”

The governor however regretted that some people were peddling rumours of cash transfers against his government.

“There is freedom of information bill and people are allowed to get information from these sources. The only thing is that there is no point telling lies and peddling falsehood against leaders. Like I heard somebody said we transferred 2.4 billion dollars to an account. Which account, where is the money? Money that I don’t have to do local government election, or to pay salaries. If I have it wont I pay them? So it is allowed.

“EFCC is an agency that is charged to investigate and where somebody is found culpable you prosecute. So they are free to do their job in Benue State. I have given them free hand: ICPC, EFCC, and even for me I am doing independent prosecution of those who are corrupt,” he said.

He stated that already, some indicted persons had agreed to return N355 million to the state government.

He said: “The justice Kpojume commission came out with a report that N107 billion should be retrieved from 52 persons including the former governor and I am leaving no stones unturned to ensure that we recover this money because we need it for the development of Benue state.

“Already someone who was indicted has already offered to refund N355 million which we gave the approval in council on Wednesday. With that we are not interested in prosecution. The exco exonerated him, once he pays in the money, he has his clean bill.”