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Report: EFCC probes Ortom over ‘N22bn fraud’

Report: EFCC probes Ortom over ‘N22bn fraud’
July 31
07:39 2018
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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is investigating Samuel Ortom, governor of Benue, over the alleged diversion of N22 billion.

According to PUNCH, the allegation is contained in the report of an investigation which began in May 2016.

Ortom was said to have ordered the withdrawal of N21.3bn from four Benue government’s accounts in three banks between June 30, 2015, and March 2018.

The EFCC said N19bn out of the money was purportedly meant for the payment of six security agencies deployed to Benue over the farmers-herdsmen clashes.

According to the anti-graft agency, less than N3bn of the money was paid to the security agencies.

“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 N1, 916, 635, 206 from the state’s allocation between June 30, 2015 and March 2018,” the report read.

“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 N19, 468, 951, 590 from the Benue state allocation.

“Investigations revealed that N19 billion was withdrawn by one Oliver Ntom, a cashier. Sometimes, in a day, he would withdraw as high as N500 million by cashing several cheques worth N10 million 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 N5 million 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 N60 million is given to all the security agencies collectively every month as claimed by the permanent secretary, it cannot amount to half of N19 billion in three years.”

The EFCC said it has also invited one John Bako, a member of one of the security outfits in Benue who withdrew N28 million, and one Andooi Festus, a cashier from the Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs who withdrew N1.3 billion.

The anti-graft agency also said 21 lawmakers of the Benue house of assembly are under probe.

“About 21 of the lawmakers are under probe. However, 25 of the lawmakers have returned all the money they received which adds up to N245m. Four others have failed to return the remaining sum of N31m,” the EFCC report read.

The EFCC investigation is coming in the wake of the Benue governor’s defection to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

On Monday, eight lawmakers of the state house of assembly served an impeachment notice on the governor.

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