Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has promised to recover the N107 billion allegedly looted from the state’s treasury by the former Governor, Gabriel Suswam
The Governor also commended the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for investigating the alleged misappropriation of N750 million meant for purchase of official vehicles by the speaker and some members of the state House of Assembly.
Fielding questions from state house correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Ortom said his government would not tolerate any act of criminality, adding that no one would be spared in the fight against corruption in Benue State.
“They are under investigation by the EFCC,” Ortom said, “From day one I brought up a slogan that ‘if you chop money, money will chop you’,
“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.”
Governor Ortom disclosed that already, one of the indicted persons had agreed to return N355 million to the state government.
“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 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.”
The governor however regretted that some people were peddling rumours of cash transfers against his government.
“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 won’t I pay them?
“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,” he said.
It would be recalled that the EFCC had on Monday, June 27, invited and detained Speaker of Benue State House of Assembly, Terkinbi Ikange; his deputy, James Ikefe; and 13 other members at the commission’s Abuja office.
Reports say the lawmakers were released on Wednesday evening but another seven members had been summoned by Commission to appear for questioning on Friday.