Ortom lauds FG for EFCC’s reversal on frozen accounts

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…Investigations ongoing in Benue, says EFCC source

Nigerian Concord Newspaper

Benue state governor, Samuel Ortom, today lauded the intervention of the federal government to prevail over the EFCC to unfreeze the state government accounts which were frozen by the anti graft agency three days ago.

This is just as the EFCC has reiterated its formed decision to see to the end of the ongoing investigations into the alleged financial crimes which were calculated to the tune of N22 billion in the state.

Recall that the EFCC had on Tuesday frozen all the bank accounts of the Benue state government as a result of the ongoing probe into what the agency called “illegal withdrawal” of N22 billion by the administration of Governor Ortom.

But reacting to the freezing of the accounts by the EFCC during a Radio Interview yesterday, Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Terver Akase, said that Governor Ortom was being victimized by the APC-led federal government.

Akase further stated that the freezing of the said accounts would affect payments of salaries and pensions in the state.

Also reacting to the freezing of the accounts, the Nigerian Governors Forum described the act as impunity.

However, there were unconfirmed reports last night that the embargo placed on the accounts was lifted by the EFCC.

Speaking again through Terver Akase in a press statement sent to journalists this afternoon, Governor Samuel Ortom confirmed that the accounts had been released back to the state government.

In the statement, the governor hailed
Nigerians for their solidarity, support and prayers which have enabled the EFCC to do the needful on the frozen accounts.

He added that the latest development has deepened democracy which he claimed strives on the rule of law and due process.

The statement reads in parts: “The Governor believes that the nationwide condemnation which trailed the Police and DSS siege on the Benue State House of Assembly as well as the invasion of the National Assembly will be remembered and appreciated by patriots now and in the future.

“He says the condemnation of EFCC’s freezing of the state’s accounts and general outcry have made the organization to unfreeze the said accounts.

“The Governor thanks the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, civil society organisations and the media for being true defenders of democracy and advocates of justice, fairness and equity.

Meanwhile, a top official of the EFCC who didn’t want to be mentioned for official reasons has explained that the EFCC took the decision to unfreeze the accounts after a proper briefing by the agency’s legal department yesterday.

He pressed further that the agency will go on with the probe into the illegal withdrawal of the said N22 billion by aides of the governor.

The official also stated that the commission had no reason to continue to put hold on the accounts of the Benue state government having being briefed by its legal department that the investigation can continue while the accounts are active.