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Alia probing Ortom to shield public scrutiny of his govt – Benue PDP

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From Msurshima Andrew, Makurdi

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Benue state has said that the constitution of two panels by Governor Hyacinth Alia, to probe the administration of his immediate predecessor, Chief Samuel Ortom, is a ploy to shied from public scrutiny the serial failures of his government.

The party which stated this in a statement signed by the Publicity Secretary, Chief Bemgba Iortyom, said they recognize the place of probity and accountability as necessary components of good governance, but are, at the same time, worried about the timing.

According to the party, the timing of the probe exercise, coming at a time Governor Alia’s table is already full with issues of insecurity and allegations of monumental corruption taking place under his watch calls for concerns.

The PDP said the party will stand by its leader, Chief Ortom, through this process of stock-taking, if that is actually what it will be.

Recall that Governor Alia had constituted two Commission of Inquiries to probe into the income and expenditure of former Governor Samuel Ortom’s administration.

In a response, Chief Ortom had also stated that he will cooperate with the Commission as he has nothing to hide.

“In what may be interpreted as a lack of confidence in the Benue Judicial family, Governor Alia selected two justices from outside the state to head the two panels which are vested with separate mandates to probe into the assets and finances of the state during the era of the Ortom administration from May 29, 2015 to May 28, 2023.

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“Nevertheless, the party raises questions as to the timing of the probe exercise, coming at a time Governor Alia’s table is already full with issues of insecurity and allegations of monumental corruption taking place under his watch.

“PDP recalls that only last week the governor issued a 14 days ultimatum to Fulani herdsmen who have instreamed into the state with thousands of cattle to leave, however, there was no clear statement on the consequences for non compliance with the ultimatum.

“Today marks the 8th day into that ultimatum and if anything, the herders have intensified their influx into the state coming in larger numbers and with larger herds of livestock, thereby deepening insecurity and putting to greater jeopardy the survival of the people who depend on the land for basic sustenance.”

The party also noted allegations of massive corruption taking place at the Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs where allegations of sharp practices have been exposed in the form of illegal deductions and remittances from the accounts of the 23 local government councils into private accounts of certain officials of government and some suspected cronies of the governor.

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PDP noted with sadness that those allegations of mismanagement of taxpayers monies by the Alia government are such that “an alleged N20 billion out of N50 billion belonging to the 23 LG councils has been deducted into illegal accounts, and this hints loudly at the reason why Governor Alia had gone to the extremities of disregarding series of court orders to sack the lawful councils and put in their place his selected cronies as caretaker chairmen.

“Also of grave concern are the allegations that an estimated close to N300 million was deducted from the local government funds monthly purportedly to feed and cater for the IDPs in the state, yet it is not anywhere known that the Alia government has any programme in place for the IDPs.”

PDP cautions Governor Alia against trifling with the security and well-being of the people of the State whom he swore on oath to serve, and must resist the temptation to indulge in vendetta and smokescreens while insecurity and poverty pose an increasingly monstrous existential threat to the people.

The party also called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), ICPC, DSS and the Presidency to ensure that those officials of the Alia administration fingered in the alleged grand theft of local government funds in the state are brought to book.

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