The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has accused Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom of N22billion fraud, barely days after he dumped the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The allegations are contained in a report, in which the EFCC claimed the investigation began in 2016 but was made available to the press on Monday, the same day eight Benue lawmakers illegally attempted to impeach Governor Ortom.
The anti-graft agency also that 21 members of the Benue State House of Assembly are under investigation for allegedly diverting N375m meant for the procurement of vehicles that would be used for oversight functions.
jj. UBA with number 1017348051 and another account in GTB with number 0027952907. These accounts received N1, 916, 635, 206 from the state’s allocation between June 30, 2015 and March 2018.
“The second government agency is the Bureau of Internal Affairs and Special Services. The agency has an account with UBA with number 1007540119 and a First Bank account with number 2023788057. Between the same period, the accounts were credited with N19, 468, 951, 590 from the Benue State allocation.”
The EFFC said one person identified as Oliver Ntom, withdrew over N19bn from the account of the Bureau of Internal Affairs and Special Services based on the instructions of the Permanent Secretary, Boniface Nyaakor.
The money was withdrawn under the pretext of security votes, but the EFCC alleged that it was diverted and the memos written in respect thereof were destroyed.
The report added, “Investigations revealed that N19bn was withdrawn by one Oliver Ntom, a cashier. Sometimes, in a day, he would withdraw as high as N500m by cashing several cheques worth N10m each.
“The permanent secretary upon interrogation said anytime security agencies requested funds, he would approach Governor Ortom who would ask him to write a memo to that effect. The permanent secretary would write and the governor would approve the money.
“The permanent secretary said the funds are usually given to six security agencies. He said the highest that any security agency gets is N10m a month while the least any of the agencies gets is N5m a month.
“He said after the money has been released, the governor usually orders that the memo be torn to pieces. It is important to note that if a total of N60m is given to all the security agencies collectively every month as claimed by the permanent secretary, it cannot amount to half of N19bn in three years.”
It further accused Governor Ortom of failing to pay salaries despite withdrawing N1.328bn from the Joint State Local Government Account in Fidelity Bank with number 5030058730.
The EFCC also said it has invited 21 out of the 30 lawmakers in the Benue State House of Assembly for allegedly diverting part of the N375m meant for the procurement of vehicles in 2016.
The Benue State Government had in 2016 awarded a contract worth N417m (N375m after tax) to Mia-Three Nigeria Limited to procure 30 Prado TXL vehicles for the lawmakers. But only eight members received the vehicles while the others diverted the funds, EFCC claimed.
Governor’s office was yet to react to these allegations as at the time of filing this report.