Tondo’s Murder: Ortom, Akume In Cold War Over Commissioner’s Detention
Benue State governor, Mr. Samuel Ortom, is presently having a running battle with his god father, Senator George Akume, over the governor’s refusal to allow the police accept pleadings from Akume to release the state Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism, Mr Sekav Iortyom, who is presently in police detention for the murder of a chieftain of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Buruku local government, Mr. William Tondo.
Mr. Iortyom was arrested by men of the Nigerian Police Force in Benue state for sending four gun men to assassinate Mr. Tondo, a chairmanship Aspirant of the ruling party in Buruku local government area of Benue state.
Nigerian Concord exclusively gathered that the deceased was having serious political crises with Hon. Iortyom who is a leader of Senator Akume’s camp of the APC in Buruku local government, over his (Tondo) refusal to step down for the commissioner’s favourite.
According to our investigation, Hon. Iortyom had presented the current accountant of Benue Links, Mr. David Yimam, as his anointed chairmanship candidate for the APC in Buruku local government.
It was also gathered that another member of Senator Akume’s camp, a Retired Deputy Comptroller of the Nigerian Customs who had also acted as the acting Comptroller General of the agency, Mr. Rhoda Akor, was the one sponsoring the deceased to be the candidate of the ruling party in the local government.
Before his murder, Tondo, this newspaper gathered, had an exchange of word with Mr. Iortyom who threatened to deal with him with all his powers.
Nigerian Concord reliably gathered that the exchange of words between the duo happened at a beer palour in Gboko area of Buruku local government few days to his murder.
During the argument, the detained commissioner reportedly vowed that over his dead body would Tondo become the chairman of Buruku Local Government.
It was learnt that some days after the face-off, some four armed men came to Mr. Tondo’s residence in Buruku and accused him of dragging the APC’s chairmanship ticket with the favourite candidate of the commissioner.
The gun men, according to report, told the deceased that he was going to pay with his life for challenging the commissioner whom they said had already paid them for his life to be taken away.
After the killers had shot Mr. Tondo, Nigerian Concord gathered that his family rushed him to a hospital in Gboko from where he was referred to the Teaching Hospital in Makurdi.
It was also gathered that before the deceased died, he called the Vice Chancellor of the University of Mkar where he was a lecturer and revealed to him that the gun men mentioned the name of the commissioner (Mr. Iortyom) as the one who sent them to kill him.
It was also disclosed to this newspaper that the deceased, while receiving treatment at the Teaching Hospital, also called the detained commissioner on phone to say that he had gotten the death message he sent to him through the four gun men that shot him.
Our investigation showed that on the next day, the Benue State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Bashir Makama, went to the University of Mkar to get the details from its outgoing Vice Chancellor, Professor Emmanuel H. Agba, who briefed him about all what Tondo said that it was the commissioner (Iortyom) who sent the killers to him.
After the meeting with Professor Agba, the Commissioner of Police went to the deceased’s residence where his widow told him how her husband told the Vice Chancellor in her presence that the killers said to him that the commissioner (Iortyom) paid them to kill him for dragging the APC chairmanship ticket with his favourite, Mr. Yimam.
Nigerian Concord’s source said: “There are five aspirants for the ticket but in Senator Akume’s camp, there are two chairmanship aspirants jostling for the APC ticket in Buruku Local government. Honourable Iortyom is the leader of the camp and his anointed candidate is the current accountant of Benue Links, Mr. David Yimam. Another top member of the camp too who is a retired deputy comptroller of Customs, Mr. Rhoda Akor, is sponsoring the deceased.
“The commissioner had boasted that a member of the Akume’s camp will pick the APC’s ticket in Buruku and that was why he was always threatening to kill the deceased if he didn’t step down for his own candidate, Mr. Yimam.
“Honourable Iortyom said several times that he wouldn’t allow someone who will not support him during his plan to run for the House of Representatives in 2019 to become the chairman of his local government”
After the deceased died, Nigerian Concord gathered that the police the remaining four chairmanship aspirants of the APC in Buruku local government for questioning and they all, except Mr. Yimam, opened up to the Commissioner of Police how the Hon. Iortyom had threatened to kill Tondo for dragging the ticket with his anointed candidate.
According to information, they (the aspirants) told the police chief that family members of the deceased had revealed that the gun men mentioned the detained commissioner’s name as the person that sent them to kill him.
After meeting the five aspirants, the police, this newspaper learnt, started calling Hon. Iortyom to report at the police station for questioning but he refused to honour the invitation.
“He later switched his two telephone lines (07038101996 and 08083655568) and this made no one to be able to reach him for several days.
“It was when the Police wrote the governor himself, his chief of staff and security adviser that Commissioner Iortyom finally appeared at the police station on Monday night (Yesterday) and he has since been detained by the police” our sourced added.
Meanwhile, it was learnt that Governor Samuel Ortom has insisted that the detained commissioner must be prosecuted if found guilty.
The reason for the Ortom’s firm decision was because the governor too has his own preferred candidate for Buruku local government chairmanship who isn’t a member of Senator Akume’s camp.
Ortom is said to be having it rough with his godfather, Senator Akume, for pleading with the police to release the detained commissioner for him (Akume) so he can handle the case by himself.
This newspaper as well gathered that Senator Akume too has called the governor several times to tongue-lash him for not understanding that prosecuting Iortyom would pave way for the opposition party, PDP, to have an upper hand during future election in Benue state.
This newspaper had last two weeks broken a news on the plans of the EFCC to invite the Benue State Commissioner for Arts and Culture, Honourable Sekav Dzu Iortyom, for questioning over his role in the SUBEB contract scam.
Nigerian Concord reported that Hon. Iortyom was facing a serious problem for hijacking a multi-million Naira contracts from SUBEB for his two companies, Vakes and Allatets and Sedi Global Holdings, even when he still serves as a commissioner for arts and culture under Governor Samuel Ortom.
According to Nigerian Concord’s investigations, both companies were not qualified but the contracts allocated to Buruku area of the state were awarded to them as a result of the close relationship that Hon. Iyortyom enjoys with Governor Ortom.
Findings also showed that both Vakes and Allatets and Sedi Global Holdings
did not even register with Benue state Tenders Board.
Apart from the commissioner who has been running from pole to pole to ensure that his tracks are covered by Governor Ortom, Chief Agbo Ogah who was the Chief of Staff to a former Senate President owns Nee Oil and Gas which is one of the two companies that hijacked the 11 SUBEB contracts allocated to Ogbadibo and one other area.
Agbo Ogah who is presently a chieftain of the party in Benue is not from Ogbadibo but he was able to hijack the contracts programmed for the area.
Apart from these people, the EFCC will also be going after Rt. Hon. Moses Oduh who is presently serving as a Special Adviser to the Governor.
Honn moses Oduh owns Ifene Nig. Ltd, a company which did not participate in the bidding process but still hijacked some of the contracts just because of his influence in the Samuel Ortom-led administration.
The EFCC will be investigating why these people should be allowed to be contractors under the Public Procurement Act especially when they are public office holders.
This newspaper had this morning reported that the EFCC and ICPC are reportedly set to visit Benue State any moment from now to investigate the state government under Governor Samuel Ortom as a result of several petitions they received from some stakeholders in the APC who are alleging gross irregularities and fraud in the award of SUBEB contracts to some of the party’s top members especially those who are currently holding public offices in the State.
Reports have it that the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) has earmarked over 700 projects in State owned primary schools which range from construction of new classroom blocks to renovation of existing facilities across the 23 LGAs of the State.
According to one of the petitions a copy which was received by this newspaper, Dr. Samuel Ortom had allegedly mandated that APC’s executives of each of the 276 council wards in the state should nominate a party member that is a contractor to bid and be given a contract project for each of the wards.
According to the petition, Governor Ortom did this to enable the party Executives use the proceeds from the execution of the contracts in funding the party activities at the ward and local government levels.
Trouble however started when some Wards and local government areas weren’t given any contract even after raising funds amongst themselves to form some kangaroo companiesin order to obtain tax clearance and the required bidding documents.
It was reported that the Tender Board however awarded majority of the contracts to some of the party chieftains who are presently serving under the government of Governor Ortom.
“Companies that did not participate in the bidding process and some companies belonging to party leaders and public office holders were allegedly given as much as 5 slots across some LGAs” the petition said.
This situation did not go down well with many ward and local government executives who are now demanding that the instructions of the governor must be adhered to, otherwise, the party must refund their hard earned money which they contributed to fund the kangaroo companies.
One of the APC stakeholders, Comrade Michael Inedu, who spoke on the matter in Okpokwu said he has never seen a thing like this since his years of politicking. He queried why contracts meant for 12 wards were given to only one man who is not even from Okpokwu local government without consulting either stakeholders or party executives.
Also in Ogbadibo local government area, a party Chieftain (name withheld) also explained how only two persons allegedly hijacked the 14 contract slots allocated to the local government area.
“Ogbadibo has 13 wards and executives of each ward is allocated with a project and the LG excos having one also. Out of the 14 slots that were lobbied for in Ogbadibo, only 11 slots have so far been awarded and to our surprise, just 2 companies hijacked the 11 slots and leaving the party excos who went and borrowed money to finance the process in disarray”, he said.
It was gathered that the party excos and stakeholders got very angry because one of the two companies that hijacked the 11 slots, Nee Oil and Gas Nig. Ltd., belongs to Chief Agbo Ogah, a former Chief of Staff to former Senate President and now a Chieftain of APC in Ohimini LGA.
They reportedly queried in the petition why Agbo Ogah who is not from Ogbadibo should come and hijack what the governor has already programed for the poor wards excos in Ogbadibo?
It was also gathered that another company, Ifene Nig. Ltd. which did not participate in the bidding process came and hijacked the remaining slots, simply because the owner of the company, Rt. Hon. Moses Oduh is presently serving as a Special Adviser to the Governor.
The petitioners also queried why Moses Oduh, a public office holder, should be allowed to be a contractor under the Public Procurement Act.
According to another stakeholder, Mr. Michael Akor who also expressed his anger, party excos in some wards spent as much as N400, 000 to fund a company through tax and regularisation process, only to be shortchanged at the end.
“It’s unfair! This is not what the Governor wanted for the people. We expected that, with the formula designed by the Governor the award of contracts would get down to the ward level where party excos would not only benefit, but would also be privileged to monitor the project, since it is to be situated in their ward”, Mr. Akor added.
A source at the party secretariat in Makurdi confirmed that some party leaders in the state were aware of the petitions to the anti-graft agencies and that efforts were being put in place to arrest the situation.
The source who pleaded anonymity also revealed that the reason why some wards have not benefited from the slots may not be unconnected to the fact that some companies nominated were not prequalified.
He also explained that some wards excos submitted their pre qualifications to the APC secretariat in Makurdi instead of submitting at the SUBEB or tender’s board.
“Although the party subsequently advised SUBEB to use prequalified companies to buy their job orders or tenders, so that Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) or Power of Attorney would be transferred to the various wards, in collaboration with the contractors that have been duly nominated from the wards” he stressed