Barely a week after dumping the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has been accused of fraud to the tune of N22 billion by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
According to The Punch, the anti-graft body made this known in the report of an investigation it commenced in 2016.
In the report, Ortom ordered N21.3 billion withdrawn from the state’s accounts in three commercial banks between June 30, 2015 and March 2018.
Out of the total sum, according to the report, N19 billion was meant for the payment of six different security agencies brought in to curtail incessant farmers-herdsmen clashes within the state.
But the EFCC said that only N3 billion out of the sum got to the security agencies while the remainder seemed to have vanished.
“ We investigated four bank accounts belonging to two Benue State Government ’ s agencies . The first agency is the Benue State Government House which has an account in UBA with number 1017348051 and another account in GTB with number 0027952907 . These accounts received N 1 , 916 , 635 , 206 from the state ’ s allocation between June 30 , 2015 and March 2018.
“The second government agency is the Bureau of Internal Affairs and Special Services . The agency has an account with UBA with number 1007540119 and a First Bank account with number 2023788057. Between the same period , the accounts were credited with N 19, 468 , 951 , 590 from the Benue State allocation.”
The EFCC report states that N19 billion tagged as security votes was withdrawn singlehandedly by one Oliver Ntom from the BIASS account on the orders of the Permanent Secretary, Bureau of Internal Affairs and Special Services (BIASS), Boniface Nyaakor.
The anti-graft agency said the money is feared to have been diverted as the memos that were written in respect of the withdrawals were destroyed.
“ Investigations revealed that N 19bn was withdrawn by one Oliver Ntom, a cashier . Sometimes , in a day , he would withdraw as high as N 500 m by cashing several cheques worth N 10m each.
“The permanent secretary upon interrogation said anytime security agencies requested funds, he would approach Governor Ortom who would ask him to write a memo to that effect . The permanent secretary would write and the governor would approve the money.
“The permanent secretary said the funds are usually given to six security agencies. He said the highest that any security agency gets is N10m a month while the least any of the agencies gets is N5m a month.
“He said after the money has been released, the governor usually orders that the memo be torn to pieces. It is important to note that if a total of N 60m is given to all the security agencies collectively every month as claimed by the permanent secretary, it cannot amount to half of N19bn in three years.”