Abuja – Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has said that there is no way he could have taken N4.29 billion out of the state treasury without being spotted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and invited for questioning for such. Ortom was reacting to media reports that he used proxies to ferry the cash out of three banks to unknown beneficiaries believed to be close to him.ORTOM

But in a swift reaction made available to Saturday Vanguard, the governor denied ever transferring such huge amount from the financial system blaming the report on those he claimed had looted the state to the tune of N107 billion before he took over. In the statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and ICT, Tahav Agerzua, the governor also said that none of his aides had been invited by EFCC for questioning over the alleged offence, which he said was spurious. Agerzua pointed out that even the lawmaker whose account was allegedly used by the governor to launder the money, had also denied being the courier.

The governor however admitted that the sum of N929 million was judiciously used for security issues and properly accounted for and not misused as reported by the petitioners to EFCC. The governor’s aide said: “Checks at the Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs where an alleged N929,903,967.00 was stolen by two persons revealed the following: “Mr Festus Andoor is the cashier of the Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs who has the mandate to make withdrawals from the Joint Allocation Account Committee’s Bank account as approved by the 23 local government chairmen at JAAC meetings. “These approvals include disbursement of funds to tackle security challenges especially herdsmen’s attacks in the 23 local government areas in recent times as well as other emergencies such as the burial of the late Tor Tiv Orchivirigh Dr Alfred Akawe Torkula. “The withdrawals made covered the amount mentioned in the allegations and fell within the period quoted by the publications.

“With regard to John J Bako; he is a police officer overseeing the activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad in the state. It is on record that the immediate past administration instituted an arrangement of providing monthly logistics to support the squad in the local government areas. “The current administration inherited this policy and sustained it. None of the amounts referred to has been paid into any private account belonging to Governor Samuel Ortom’s associates as alleged. It is to be noted that the figures quoted in the publications with regard to the Bureau were contained in the submissions it voluntarily presented to the Public Accounts Committee of the State House of Assembly.

“The public is to note that no official of the Bureau or the executive arm is under investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, or the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC for any reason whatsoever and there is no basis for such. “The publications are part of a grand design by those indicted by the Kpojime Commission for looting N107 billion from the coffers of the state who are using part of the resources to fight the Ortom administration,” the governor’s aide said.

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