Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has denied the insinuations that he was under probe by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over N4.29bn, he was said to have transfered from the state coffers.
He said Friday that there was no way he could have taken such amount of money out of the state treasury without being caught by EFCC.
In press statement issued by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and ICT, Tahav Agerzua, which was made available to journalists in Markudi, Benue State capital, Ortom said the allegations were false and mischievous and calculated at tarnishing his image as the Governor and that of his administration.
The reports had claimed that the Governors and some of his officials were being probed based on three petitions sent to the EFCC.
According to the reports, Governor Ortom siphoned over N2.6 billion through the bank account of a member of the House of Representatives, Emmanuel Udende.
Udende has already issued a statement denying the authencity of the said bank details.
“EFCC does not need to be told when huge money hits somebody’s account because the Nigerian Financial Intelligence, NFI Unit is an arm of the Commission which alerts them about all large sums transactions.
“The Glo phone number provided in the report is not mine. I don’t have a driver’s licence. I use my international passport in my transactions. The Bank accounts provided are also not mine. No funds were transferred into my accounts as contained in the report at any point. My bank accounts do not have such amounts of money mentioned.”
“If truly EFCC has received a petition of that nature, why have they not invited me up till now? Should we be hearing about the said petition on the pages of newspapers?”, the lawmaker queried.
Ortom reacting to media reports said he never used proxies to ferry the cash out of three banks to unknown beneficiaries said to be close to him.
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 by 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.
“I appeal to members of the public to disregard the spurious allegations and be assured that efforts to recover the loot are on course”, the statement said.