Memo leakage: Ortom forces aides to take Oath Of Secrecy
Written By John Apine, Makurdi
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state has informed all his aides and those of the deputy governor, Engr. Benson Abounu, the need for them to swear to an Oath Of Secrecy in order to prevent the rate at which government’s memos are being leaked to the public.
The governor who reportedly said this in a brief meeting he had with his principal aides at the government house last week specifically mentioned his displeasure over the way and manner Nigerian Concord Newspaper does get hold of some classified government’s memos which were prepared to siphoned public funds by the APC-led government in the state.
According to a dependable source at the Office of the governor’s Chief of Staff, Ortom who stated how all his spirited efforts to curb the activities of Nigerian Concord Newspapers by bringing its Publisher, Aare Abiodun Oluwarotimi, close to the government went in vain added that he had finally succumbed to advice that the Oath Of Secrecy be urgently administered on all his political aides.
According to information, the refusal of some of the aides to take this Oath which they told the governor was ‘a futile civil service ritual’ led to the sack of about three commissioners last week.
The governor reportedly and unceremoniously sacked them from his Cabinet when he couldn’t trust them any longer. Although, he had lied that it was a mere cabinet reshuffle.
Also, a senior judge in the Benue State Judiciary (Name withheld) is being considered by Governor Ortom to administer the Oath Of Secrecy on the aides on a date that hasn’t been made known.
The Oath Of Secrecy, a legitimate standard undertaking, is occasionally signed by political appointees not to disclose confidential information to the public without proper authorization.
But findings showed that the Benue state governor is imposing this Oath Of Secrecy to curb information flow about all the fraudulent activities of his government.
It would be recalled that in 2010, late president Yar’Adua’s erstwhile principal secretary, Mr. David Edevbie, led about 70 political aides of both his boss and the then Vice president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, to take an Oath of Secrecy.
The Oath which was administered on them by Justice Hassaini Yusuf of the High Court of Justice, Abuja at the Banquent Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja was described as a ploy to stop information flow about the health of the late president who was critically ill at that time.
Chief Ortom had accused virtually all his aides of working against his administration by wickedly releasing official memos of himself and some of his trusted commissioners to Nigeria Concord Newspapers.
The governor reportedly said at the meeting that this act had done several damages to his administration as well as his second term ambition which he said is already in jeopardy.
Our source further hinted that the governor raised several issues on the popularity that all the bad media attacks on his government had given to the opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, in Benue state.
He was said to have described the people of Benue state as sheep which can easily be diverted to another place without looking back once they are convinced that the present place they are isn’t good for them.
It would be recalled that this newspapers had published memos which revealed how the governor approved multi million naira contracts to a serving member of the state executive council, Mr. Joe Ikyaagba. Although, he was later sacked over a murder allegation.
It also published memos of how the governor illegally approved a N4.7 billion road contract to a company partly owned by his principal secretary, Mr. Stephen Amase.
Although, the governor denied Amase’s interest in the said company, investigation at the Corporate Affairs Commission indicated Amase’s wife, sons and daughters as principal directors of the company.
Apart from that, the newspaper also published memos between the government and Zenith Bank which the governor used to inflate monthly salaries of government workers.
Also, this newspaper had exposed how the governor has been using the government’s funds to service a N500 million loan he got from the Bank of Industry for his Oracle company.
The newspaper had also exposed several memos approved by the governor to embezzle several billions of Naira since he assumed duties as governor of Benue state in May, 2015.
However, it is still unclear if all the political aides had agreed to undergo the Oath Of Secrecy.