Benue Govt Drags Ex-Gov Suswam, 51 Others To EFCC | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Benue Govt Drags Ex-Gov Suswam, 51 Others To EFCC

Posted: Mar 8, 2016 at 12:50 am   /   by   /   comments (1)

?Saves N2.6bn From Ghost Workers


The Benue State Government may have concluded plans to forward the names of erstwhile governor of the state, Gabriel Suswam and 51 others to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged corrupt practices while in office.

The state governor, Samuel Ortom dropped the hint to start the process of prosecuting Suswan on Monday when he received the report of the Administrative Commission of Inquiry into the Sale/Lease of Government Assets from June, 2007 to May, 2015 at the People’s House, Makurdi.

This is coming on the heels of the recommendations from the Government White Paper on the verdict of a Commission of Inquiry set up by the incumbent government of Governor Samuel Ortom to probe the former governor and a retinue of his high profile aides on his eight-year tenure in the state.

The White Paper had asked Suswam to refund N3billion alleged to have been misappropriated by him during his administration.

The Commission headed by Mr. Justice Elizabeth Kpojime had indicted Suswan and 51 others over alleged misappropriation of the state’s funds running into almost N209billion between 2007 and 2015.
Ortom had said that the Implementation Committee of the White Paper that prescribed that the names of Suswam among others be forwarded to the anti-graft agency had completed its work and government would implement the recommendations of the White Paper to the latter.

The Paper had recommended that the names of the affected persons be forwarded to the agency, be made to refund the alleged funds and also barred from contesting political office for life.

Ortom who vowed to implement the white paper also debunked allegations that the implementation was a witch hunt ahead of 2019.

He said, “We will boldly correct the wrongs by past government and this (implementation) is an attempt to correct such wrongs”, he said, adding, “I promised to be transparent, fair and ensure justice is served”.

“The implementation committee has produced the white paper into the income and expenditure accruing to the state (during the period) and we will implement it to the latter. We are committed to ensuring that the right thing is done.”, the governor stressed.

He also noted that due to the screening exercise recently embarked upon by government, it was able to save over N2.6 billion at the State and Local Government levels combined. Ortom gave the breakdown as over N1billion at the State level and N1.6billion at the LG level.

Earlier, Chairman of the Administrative Commission of Inquiry into the Sale/Lease of Government Assets from June, 2007 to May, 2015, Moses Atagher alleged sharp practices in the sale/lease of government assets during the period.
He also alleged that guidelines and due process for the sale/ lease of government assets were disregarded just as assets were not valued before sale.

Atagher further pointed out that money and property laundering were made under “crafty” and shady deals during the period under review.

The whitepaper, titled: Government Views and Decisions On Report Of the Judicial Panel Of Inquiry Into Funds Accruing/Received And TheUtilization Of Benue State Funds/Assets, 2015, is a catalogue of financial malfeasance, alleged theft, mismanagement and inefficiency among other indices of misgovernance under Suswam.

Aside from Suswan, the whitepaper recommends that Mr. Omadachi Oklobia, Suswam’s Finance Commissioner, and Mrs. Ruth Ijir, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, be barred from holding public office. It is also recommended that Ijir be compulsorily retired from the civil service. Others recommended for sanction include Emmanuel O. Atini, Asen Sambe, Andy Uwoukwu, Joseph Kpaakpa and Terfa Ihindan.

The listed public officials were the biggest actors under Suswam’s administration in the state, which the commission’s report and government whitepaper presented as resembling an ethical free-trade zone.