The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has linked the governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom to an alleged fraud of N22bn. The EFCC revealed that 21 members of the Benue State House of Assembly are also under investigation for allegedly diverting N375m meant for the procurement of vehicles to be used for oversight functions. The allegations are contained in a report of an investigation which began in 2016.
According to the report, the governor, between June 30, 2015 and March 2018, ordered the withdrawal of N21.3bn from four government’s accounts in Guaranty Trust Bank, First Bank of Nigeria and the United Bank for Africa. On paper, about N19bn out of the money was said to be meant for the payment of six security agencies that had been deployed in the state to address the incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers. The EFCC stated that less than N3bn of the money was paid to the security agencies while the remainder could not be accounted for.
The anti-graft agency said one person identified as Oliver Ntom, withdrew over N19bn from the account of the Bureau of Internal Affairs and Special Services based on the instructions of the Permanent Secretary, Boniface Nyaakor. The money, which was allegedly withdrawn under the pretext of security votes, was said to have been diverted while the memos written in respect of the withdrawal were destroyed.
The commission said the funds being spent were not in the budget of the Benue State Government. According to the anti-graft agency, the Benue State Government had in 2016 awarded a contract worth N417m (N375m after tax) to Mia-Three Nigeria Limited to procure 30 Prado TXL vehicles for the lawmakers. However, only eight members received the vehicles while the others diverted the funds.