Benue: PDP Tasks EFCC To Investigate, Prosecute Officials Accused Of Corruption

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Benue State has called on the anti-corruption agencies in the country such as EFCC, ICPC and DSS to ensure that officials of the Benue State government who have been fingered in the alleged embezzlement of local government funds are brought to justice.

The PDP which made the call in a statement signed by its state Publicity Secretary, Chief Bemgba Iortyom, described as unacceptable, reports of mismanagement of taxpayers’ monies by the Governor Hyacinth Alia administration in which N20 billion out of N50 billion belonging to the 23 local government councils in the state has allegedly been deducted and paid illegally into private accounts.

The statement read:

“The constitution of two panels by Benue State Governor, Hyacinth Alia, to probe the administration of his immediate predecessor, Chief Samuel Ortom, is evidently a ploy to shied from public scrutiny the serial failures of his government.

“In what may be interpreted as lack of confidence in the Benue Judicial family, Governor Alia selected two justices from outside the state to head the two panels which are vested with separate mandates to probe into the assets and finances of the state during the era of the Ortom administration from May 29, 2015 to May 28, 2023.

“Chief Ortom, who since the expiry of his two terms in office as governor has lived freely among the people in the state, has since expressed his readiness to submit himself before any lawful process as will require him to give account of his stewardship as governor.

“The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, likewise, recognizes the place of probity and accountability as necessary components of good governance, and will stand by its Leader, Chief Ortom, through this process of stock-taking, if that is actually what it will be.

“Nevertheless, the party raises questions as to the timing of the probe exercise, coming it at a time Governor Alia’s table is already full with issues of insecurity and allegations of monumental corruption taking place under his watch.

“PDP recalls that only last week the governor issued a 14 days ultimatum to Fulani herdsmen who have instreamed into the state with thousands of cattle to leave, however, there was no clear statement on the consequences for non compliance with the ultimatum.

“Today marks the 8th day into that ultimatum and if anything, the herders have intensified their influx into the state coming in larger numbers and with larger herds of livestock, thereby deepening insecurity and putting to greater jeopardy the survival of the people who depend on the land for basic sustenance.

“There has also arisen the allegations of massive corruption taking place at the Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs where sharp practices have been exposed in the form of illegal deductions and remittances from the accounts of the 23 local government councils into private accounts of certain officials of government and some suspected cronies of the governor.

“In the last few days, the national media have been awash with news of civil society groups who, having observed the fleece taking place at the Benue State local government Bureau, have forwarded petitions regarding those allegations to anti-corruption authorities vested with the powers for investigating and prosecuting financial crimes, and the sums involved run into tens of billions of naira within a period of less than a year.

“PDP notes with sadness that those allegations of mismanagement of taxpayers monies by the Alia government are such that an alleged N20 billion out of N50 billion belonging to the 23 local government councils has been deducted into illegal accounts, and this hints loudly at the reason why Governor Alia had gone to the extremities of disregarding series of court orders to sack the lawful councils and put in their place his selected cronies as caretaker chairmen.

“Also of grave concern are the allegations that an estimated close to N300 million was deducted from the local government funds monthly purportedly to feed and cater for the IDPs in the state, yet it is not anywhere known that the Alia government has any programme in place for the IDPs.

“PDP cautions Governor Alia against trifling with the security and well-being of the people of Benue State whom he swore on oath to serve, and must resist the temptation to indulge in vendetta and smokescreens while insecurity and poverty pose an increasingly monstrous existential threat to the people.

“The party also calls on the EFCC, ICPC, DSS and the Presidency to ensure that those officials of the Alia administration fingered in the alleged grand theft of local government funds in the state are brought to book.“

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