Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, has told the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe President Muhammadu Buhari and all state governors in the country over the spending of security votes.
The governor’s call comes just days after reports emerged that the anti-graft agency has been investigating him over how he has spent on Benue’s security since 2015.
While speaking during a statewide broadcast on Wednesday, August 1, 2018, the governor said it’s a case of persecution that he’s the only governor being investigated over the spending on security.
According to him, the presidency itself has been secretive about how the government spends on security, leading him to direct EFCC to investigate the presidency and all state governors for a fair approach.
He said: “As I earlier alerted the people, EFCC is now probing the state security vote. So far, I am the only governor in Nigeria whose security vote is being investigated by EFCC. Recently, the presidential spokesman Mr. Femi Adesina, said on Channels Television and I quote ‘I doubt, world over, if any government would come to say this is how much we have spent on security, because can you quantify the amount of one life? It 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 right 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.”
Ortom’s alleged mismanagement of N21.3billion
According to a report by The Punch, the investigation into the governor’s handling of N21.3 billion started in 2016, but wasn’t made public until Monday, July 30, 2018, barely a week after Ortom dumped the ruling All Progressives’ Congress (APC) for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
According to the report, Ortom ordered the withdrawal of N21.3bn from four government accounts between June 30, 2015 and March 2018. Even though about N19 billion was earmarked to be paid to six security agencies that had been deployed to address the incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the state, the EFCC disclosed that only N3 billion was paid with the rest unaccounted for.
The EFCC investigation also revealed that Governor Ortom failed to pay salaries despite withdrawing the sum of N1.3 billion for that purpose from the Joint State Local Government Account.