The lingering rift between Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state and his estranged political benefactor, Senator George Akume has taken a new twist as the Governor has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to prosecute Senator Akume for allegedly fleecing the state of N2billion in 2007.
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC boss Ibrahim Magu and Benue state governor Samuel Ortom
The Governor who was reacting to an allegation by Senator Akume at the recent All Progressives Congress, APC, presidential rally in Makurdi that he was the richest Governor in north central said the former Governor should be questioned on the said fund which he allegedly withdrew from the state coffers at the twilight of his administration.
Ortom said, “I was a millionaire before I became Governor and those of you who are in Benue state know, but because of my public office, I had to resign from the chairmanship of my company when I became a Minister.
“The company is doing fine, borrowing money from NEXIM Bank, Bank of Industry and from the Central Bank Agriculture Development Programme. You can check and confirm.
“So, can he blame me for that? Akume who was Governor for eight years, you would recall, took N2billion from the state coffers before leaving office. Up till today, the case is still with the EFCC. It’s just that he is in APC so, nobody is concerned about prosecuting him but he should be prosecuted.
“That is why I am saying that EFCC has become a department in the APC; otherwise, Akume would have gone to jail by now if he were prosecuted.
“Where did he get money to build the palace that he has in Makurdi with all the houses that he has around this town? What about the ones he bought? Where did he get money to build the house he is living in Abuja?
“Did he farm rice or sesame seeds or anything before he got them? When you have nothing to offer for 12 years as Senator, you have nothing to show and you come to make those wild allegations, it is laughable.
“Where is my house in Abuja? There is none. It’s just last year that I started building a house even in Makurdi which is ongoing. Otherwise, the only one I have is the one I left for government house so where is the richest man? That is an imagination meant to demonize me.”
Reacting to the allegation on behalf of Senator Akume, his then Special Assistant and former Special Adviser to Governor Ortom, Mr. Abua Yaji said the allegation was baseless.
According to Mr. Yaji, “that is outright falsehood, Senator Akume did not hand over to Ortom, he handed over to Gabriel Suswam and if there was anything like that, Akume was the most investigated former Governor after he handed over power. There were over five panels that came to investigate him and they gave him a clean bill.
“So, Akume cannot be drawn in mudsling with Ortom. He served the state for eight years and had a lot of security challenges including the Taraba, Jukun, Kutev/Tiv crisis.
“When he was leaving office salaries that were not paid were still in the coffers of the government, when Suswam came he paid with the funds. Akume awarded contracts for roads rehabilitation and paid upfront before leaving office when Suswam came he had a smooth takeover.
“So there was nothing like missing N2billion, Ortom should tell us where he resurrected that from because the records are there in Akume’s handover notes.
“If Governor Ortom feels that Akume did anything wrong he should take him to court even through private prosecution,” the former Special Adviser added.