THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, last night, released former governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, after grilling him for over 10 hours, at its Makurdi office.
The ex-governor had, earlier at about 10 am, reported at the Zonal Office of the Commission, following an invitation from the office.
It was gathered that the former Governor was invited by the commission to answer to allegations relating to his eight years of stewardship as governor of the state.
After spending the entire day at the Commission, the ex-Governor was seen being driven out of the EFCC office in a Sports Utility Vehicle, SUV, at about 7:55 pm, accompanied by some friends and associates who had waited patiently at a nearby hotel for his release.
Though the former governor could not be reached for comments but a statement released before his release Tuesday evening, by his media aide, Mr. Terver Akase indicated that he was not arrested by the anti-graft agency.
Akase in the statement explained that “contrary to insinuations in some sections of the media, the immediate past Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom today visited the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC to honour the invitation of the commission.
“Chief Ortom was neither arrested nor detained at the EFCC Zonal Headquarters in Makurdi. The former Governor has repeatedly said that he is available to respond to inquiries by anti-graft agencies as he has nothing to hide regarding his stewardship of Benue State.”
Recall that the former governor had before leaving office promised to remain in the country for at least five months to answer to any questions that might flow from his eight years of being on the saddle.
He also promised to present himself before anti graft agencies if invited for questioning on any issue whatsoever.
Ortom also enjoined his then appointees to make themselves available for questioning if invited saying “anytime you are invited by the EFCC, don’t be afraid to go, as for me I am not a coward to run away from EFCC, if they come for me I will follow them.
“I have nothing to fear, I don’t have any investment in Europe all I have are in this state. If anyone accuses me of committing any crime let the person come and show me.”
Though no official of the EFCC provided any information on the visit of the former governor.
Reacting, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Benue State, commended Ortom for willingly submitting himself to the EFCC for questioning over his eight years tenure in office.
PDP, in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Bemgba Iortyom, among others, said “Ex governor Ortom earlier said: “The former governor’s action also depicts him as a man of his words as it fulfills promises he made while in office that at the end of his tenure he will be willing to give open account of all that he did in execution of the mandate vested to him as governor by the Benue electorate.”
Meanwhile, the Benue State House of Assembly yesterday set up a three man ad-hoc committee to investigate the finances of the 23 Local Government Areas, LGAs, of the state under the former governor Samuel Ortom administration.
Speaker of the Assembly, Mr. Aondona Dajoh, announced the setting up of the investigative committee after reading a communication from Governor Hyacinth Alia on the matter.
The correspondence dated June 14 was titled, “Forwarding of report of the 23 Local Government Chairmen of Benue from February to April, 2023.”
The ad-hoc committee which would scrutinise the income and expenditures of the 23 LGAs is headed by the member representing Katsina-Ala West State Constituency, Mr. Peter Ipusu with Mr. Manger Manger of Tarka and Mr. Cyril Ekong of Oju II Constituency as members.
Part of the letter from the Governor read “following the receipt of the report of income and expenditures of the Chairmen of the 23 Local Government Councils submitted themselves on the 14th of June, 2023, I hereby forward the above report to you for investigation and necessary recommendations, please.”
The letter was signed by the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Mr. Paul Biam on behalf of Governor.
The committee was directed by the House to investigate and report back within the shortest time possible for necessary action.
Recall that the present 23 Local Government Council Chairmen in the state were elected into office for two years tenures in May 2022 during the PDP administration of former Governor Ortom.
expenditures of the Chairmen of the 23 Local Government Councils submitted themselves on the 14th of June, 2023, I hereby forward the above report to you for investigation and necessary recommendations, please.”“The letter was signed by the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Mr. Paul Biam on behalf of Governor.“The committee was directed by the House to investigate and report back within the shortest time possible for necessary action.“Recall that the present 23 Local Government Council Chairmen in the state were elected into office for two years tenures in May 2022 during the PDP administration of former Governor Ortom.