EFCC: Ortom’s govt is under investigation over bailout funds, illegal contract awards
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday said that it is seriously investigating Governor Samuel Ortom’s special adviser on Local government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Titus Zam, and some top officials of the Bureau over the illegal diversion of the bailout funds released to the state by the federal government.
Apart from that, the agency also said it is investigating the Benue State Universal Basic Education Board over illegal contracts awards.
An official of the anti corruption agency’s media unit who confided in Nigerian Concord’s correspondent covering the office noted that several fraudulent acts that are worth billions of Naira had taken place at the Benue State Universal Basic Education Board between 2015 and now.
According to the official, the EFCC is acting on series of petitions regarding these multi billion Naira fraud which were sent to the agency.
Nigerian Concord gathered that Governor Ortom had tried several times to block the EFCC’s investigators who were billed to storm the state last month.
The governor was said to be using the influence of one of his top security aides who is close to the EFCC’s office in Abuja to prevent the investigators from hitting the state since last month.
The investigators who were to come from the Abuja headquarters of the EFCC were stopped as a result of the interference from Governor Ortom.
It was when further petitions were sent to the agency’s chairman last two weeks that he directed the Enugu state office of the EFCC to send independent investigators to Benue state in order to unravel the fraudulent activities which Ortom and his aides have been alleged of committing.
Our source said that the EFCC’s investigators had arrived Benue state from Enugu since last two weeks, going from one local government to the other in order to gather information and relevant documents from all the local governments heads.
Part of the investigation s Nigerian Concord gathered indicated how about 75 percent of the bailout funds which were allocated to all the local governments in the state were illegally diverted by Hon. Titus Zam on the orders of Governor Ortom.
Part of the EFCC’s investigations also exposed how Governor Ortom and the cabals in his government shared another 50 percent of the bailout funds which were earmarked for the payment of workers’ salaries.
Our source also said that the Accountant General of the state, and the commissioner for finance, Mr. Olofu, will be invited by the EFCC very soon to explain their role in the hike in the monthly wage bills of Benue state.
Just yesterday, a team of EFCC’s independent investigators from Enugu state stormed Benue state and arrested Hon. Titus Zam and another fifteen top officials of the Bureau for local government and chieftaincy affairs.
They were briefly interrogated in Makurdi before being whisked to the Enugu state office of the anti graft agency.
Asked if the investigation and arrest had to do with the former administration, our source noted that the agency is only investigating the illegal diversion of bailout funds which were released by the federal government to Governor Samuel Ortom-led administration last year.
Also, the investigators stormed the office of Benue State Universal Basic Education Board and seized some vehicles belonging to some top directors at the agency.
Sources told this newspaper that the EFCC men were acting in line with several petitions dropped at their headquarters as regards the award of contracts and illegal deductions from salaries of primary school teachers .