EFCC investigates Benue Governor over alleged N22bn fraud


EFCC alleges that Governor Samuel Ortom is unable to account for funds withdrawn from four government’s accounts between June 30, 2015 and March 2018

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The political travails of Samuel Ortom were compounded on Monday, July 30, after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) disclosed that it had begun probing the Benue state governor for alleged fraud to tune of N22bn. The anti-graft police also revealed that 21 members of the Benue state house of Assembly are under investigation for allegedly embezzling N375m meant for the procurement of vehicles for oversight functions. The EFCC said the investigation against the top government officials commenced as far back in 2016, The Punch reports. In detailing the accusations against Ortom, the EFCC alleged that the governor ordered the withdrawal of N21.3bn from four government’s accounts between June 30, 2015 and March 2018.

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The commission stated that the N19bn out of the money was said to be supposed to be paid to six security agencies deployed in the state to contain the clashes between herdsmen and farmers.

Gorvernor samuel Ortom
Governor Samuel Ortom

The EFCC, however, stated that below N3bn of the money was paid to the security agencies while the remaining funds could not be accounted for. The allegations against the governor read in part: “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 second government agency is the Bureau of Internal Affairs and Special Services.

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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 “Investigations revealed that N19bn was withdrawn by one Oliver Ntom, a cashier. Sometimes, in a day, he would withdraw as high as N500m by cashing several cheques worth N10m 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.

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