Ortom tells EFCC to begin security vote probe with presidency

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The governor of Benue State, Dr. Samuel Ortom, has challenged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to begin the security votes probe with President Muhammadu Buhari.

Addressing journalists in Makurdi shortly after a state broadcast on Wednesday, Ortom who was reacting to the allegations levelled against him by the EFCC that he was involved in a N22 billion security vote diversion also wondered why he should be singled out among all the governors in the country for such probe.

It would be recalled that the EFCC had on Monday claimed that it had begun investigation of the Benue State governor, house of assembly members and permanent secretaries.

“Why am I being investigated by the EFCC? My records are there. But so far, I am the only governor in Nigeria whose security vote is being investigated by the EFCC.

“How can you single me, out of 36 (governors), for investigation?  It (security vote) is not something that any government will begin to disclose.  Why should Benue’s case be different if not persecution? If the EFCC wanted a genuine investigation of security vote spending, they should have started from the Presidency and across the 36 states.

“If their focus was on Benue State, they should have started from 1999. But this is not the case. With the enormous security challenges in the state since my assumption of office, it is surprising that any one would expect me to do nothing but keep the security vote in the safe.”

“The security vote spending being investigated spans from 2015 to 2018, a period of grave security challenges in the state. I reiterate that the investigation is a clear case of persecution. I have not misappropriated, diverted or stolen any money. I have nothing to hide. I assure that the investigators can find nothing incriminating against me,” he said.

Speaking on the impeachment move against him, Ortom who described it as  “illegal” said the people behind his impeachment had plotted another move to destabilise the state.

The plan he said was to unleash Fulani militia on the state adding that strange herdsmen and 10,000 cows had already invaded his country home, Guma and local government area.

Ortom said his council (Guma) chairman, Anthony Shawon, gave him the information.

“Having failed to achieve their anti-Benue objectives, the next phase is the unleashing of Fulani militia. I have been told that after the Operation Whirl Stroke succeeded in chasing away the herdsmen, they have started moving into Guma again as of yesterday. I have already informed the commander of OPWS and I hope security agencies will take up the matter.

“I believe Mr. President is not aware of happenings in the state but I expect him to caution the inspector general of police and the director general of DSS,” he said.

On the payment of salaries, governor acknowledged that the biggest challenge facing his administration is the payment of salaries, noting that it was caused because of the N69 billion inherited as arrears of salaries, pensions and gratuities as well as another N70 billion commitment on contracts and other obligations.

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