Corruption at its peak in Benue, Says EFCC Boss
By Adeyinka Adeboye, EFCC Correspondent
The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, on Friday said that corruption is at its peak in Benue state, adding that the agency is working day and night to expose the people behind the multiple corrupt acts under the present government.
The EFCC chairman who spoke with Nigerian Concord’s correspondent at the EFCC during a telephone chat added that the anti graft agency will continue to invite, detain and interrogate those behind the high-level fraud in the state.
Magu pressed further that the way corruption is hitting Benue state is so bad, stressing that his inability to bear it had forced him to seek President Buhari’s free hand for him to be able to step on toes and make public statements without limits.
He said that his agency had not closed the 750 million Naira car fraud that rocked the state recently.
Magu said despite interventions from high places, he had instructed his men to continue with the investigation on the car fraud until those involved refund the looted funds.
He said it was untrue that his agency had cleared Speaker Terkinbi Ikyange, his deputy, James Okefe , majority Leader, Mr. Benjamin Adanyi and some other principal officers of the Benue State House of Assembly who were involved in the 750 million Naira theft.
He wonder why some states in the federation are crying that they are unable to pay workers salaries when several billions are being embezzled on a daily basis under their watch.
On the illegal diversion of the bail-out funds given to Benue state, Mr. Magu said investigations are ongoing, stressing that it still remains an allegation until found otherwise.
He however promised to openly bring the culprits to justice if the allegation is later found to be true by the agency’s investigators.
The EFCC boss lamented the barrages of petitions that his agency had received against the Ortom-led administration as regards fake contracts that were awarded in the last 15 months.
Magu said the petitioners are claiming that several of the contracts weren’t executed whereas full payments had been made by the state government. He also said some of the petitions stated that some of the contracts were illegally awarded for big amounts to serving aides within the government.
It would be recalled the this newspaper had recently broken news on how multi million Naira contracts were awarded to a serving Special Adviser in Governor Ortom’s Cabinet, Mr. Joe Ikyaagba.
Joe Ikyaagba, up till now, is the Managing Director of Capital Project Nigeria Ltd.
Also, a 110 million Naira Contract was awarded to La Mode Business Limited without due process being followed, and this company belongs to the governor’s daughter, Mrs Grace Torkura-Ortom.
Mr. Magu pressed further that the EFCC is still investigating petitions received against Mr. Emmanuel Udende, a member of the House of Representatives representing Katsina Ala/Ukum and Logo Federal Constituency over his role in the 4.2 billion Naira that was reportedly laundered into his account by Governor Ortom.
Also, the EFCC’s scribe noted that the agency is also investigating petitions it got against Mr. Sekav Iortom, the state commissioner for Arts and Culture, and some other top aides of Governor Ortom for using their companies to hijack SUBEB contracts even when they still occupy public offices.
It would be recalled that the two SUBEB cashiers, Mr. Paul Mella and Jacob Agera, who were arrested by men of the Police Force Headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday had confessed to the police that Mr. Sekav Iortyom used his two companies, Vakes&Allatets and Sedi Global Holdings, to illegally hijacked all the SUBEB contracts that were allocated for Buruku area.
It was recently reported by several national newspapers including Nigerian Concord that Hon. Udende is being investigated by the anti-graft agency for helping Governor Samuel Ortom, to launder the said 4.2 billion Naira through his Fidelity bank account with number 5332064725
In a spirited effort, Nigerian Concord visited a branch of the bank in Marina, Lagos state where it was disclosed that Honourable Udende used his National Driver’s license with registration number JUX00820AA1, National ID Card with registration number BN005831306, and International Passport with number A04719744 to open the said account.
Nigerian Concord gathered through the petition at the EFCC that Governor Ortom made two separate money transfers totaled N2,610,123,020.00 (Two billion, six hundred and ten million, one hundred and twenty three thousand, and twenty naira) into Honourable Udende’s Fidelity Bank account with account number 5332064725 on the 18th December, 2015 and 4th Jan 2016 respectively.
It was also gathered that both transactions were made through an inward clearing account number 1810001210300.
According to the petition, the first transfer made into the account was N1,458,593,990 (One billion, four hundred and fifty eight million, five hundred and ninety three thousand, nine hundred and ninety naira) while the second transfer was N1,151,529,036 (One billion, one hundred and fifty one million, five hundred and twenty nine thousand, and thirty six naira).
The second petition which was also obtained by Nigerian Concord disclosed how Governor Ortom illegally defrauded the State of about N929,903,967.00 (Nine hundred and twenty – nine million, nine hundred and three thousand, nine hundred and sixty – seven naira) at the Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.
The petition disclosed that the governor did use the duo of Festus Andoor and John Bako who are workers at the Bureau to illegally withdraw the said funds from the Joint State and Local Government Service Fidelity Bank account with number 5030058730.
“We discovered during our findings that two persons, namely, Festus Andoor and one John J Bako, are fronts who are used in making questionable withdrawals from the JSLG account number 5030058730 domiciled with Fedelity bank Makurdi branch.
“We wish to specifically draw your attention to the activities of John J. Bako whom finding show is not amongst the signatories to the JSLG Fidelity Bank account with number 5030058730 but had severally made withdrawals from same account” the second petition reads In parts.
The petition disclosed that on the order of Governor Ortom, Mr. John Bako withdrew the total sum of N17, 950,000 (Seventeen Million, nine hundred and fifty thousand naira) between November 2015 and the 17th of March 2016.
The petition also made it known that Bako’s partner, Mr. Andoor Festus, on the 11th February, 2016 withdrew the total sum of N151,806,920 (One Hundred and Fifty – one million, eight hundred and six thousand, nine hundred and twenty naira) from the same Joint State and Local Government Service Fidelity Bank account with number 5030058730 for Governor Ortom. He withdrew the said funds in sixteen different transactions.
“On the 16th and 17th February 2016, same Festus Andoor also took from the same JSLG service account with Fidelity Bank a cash of N100 , 000, 000 million Naira in ten different transactions.
“Earlier in November 2015, Andoor Festus withdrew from same JSLG service account from Fedelity Bank the sum of N52, 026,800 (Fifty – two million and twenty-six thousand, eight hundred naira) on five occasions, while in December 2015, February 2016 and March 2016, he made cash withdrawals of N216,561,684.84 (Two hundred and sixteen million, five hundred and sixty – one thousand, six hundred and eighty four naira, eighty four kobo), N89,574,600.00 (Eighty nine million, five hundred and seventy four thousand, six hundred naira), N525, 206,920.00 (Five hundred and twenty-five thousand, two hundred and six thousand, nine hundred and twenty naira) and N20,783,962.16 (Twenty million, seven hundred and eighty – three thousand, nine hundred and sixty – two naira sixteen kobo) respectively from same JSLG account with Fidelity Bank” parts of the petition reads.
The petitioners expressed worry that the person, Andoor Festus subsequently, made withdrawals of huge sums in similar fashion of several instalments amounting to N911,953,967.00 (Nine hundred and eleven million, nine hundred and fifty – three thousand, Nine hundred and sixty-seven) naira only.