The Benue State Government on Wednesday said that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has frozen its accounts in commercial banks, including funds meant to pay the salaries of workers and pensioners.
Terver Akase, a spokesperson for Governor Samuel Ortom, said in a statement, that “Accounts of the Benue State Government have been frozen by EFCC.”
“It is part of the political witch-hunt against Governor Samuel Ortom. The action of EFCC is already having negative impact on the running of government in Benue State. It is a move that will affect salaries, pensions and other sundry payments,” Akase said.
Akase emphasised in the statement obtained by Premium Times that there is political undertone of the EFCC’s action, warning the agency not to allow itself be used by political players.
“The question we are asking is; why did EFCC not investigate the Governor’s security votes when he was still a member of APC? Why start the investigation now?
“EFCC should not allow itself to be used as an attack dog unleashed against perceived political opponents” Akase said.
The reported freezing comes days after the APC accused Mr Ortom of squandering security votes and politicising the deaths of his state residents. Mr Ortom strongly denied the allegations.
“Let the Federal Government tell us how much it has spent on prosecuting the fight against Boko Haram and how much it spent on the other operations such as Python Dance, Crocodile Smile and Whirl Stroke.
“Benue has suffered heavy attacks by Fulani herdsmen since the beginning of the year. Within the period, the State Government has spent a lot to legitimately support security agencies to protect the people of the state. Governor Ortom has not diverted funds. He runs a transparent administration.
“We welcome the investigation, but as I said earlier, it should start from the presidency and go across the 36 states. Benue should not be singled out for victimisation, intimidation and harassment as the federal government with its agencies is currently doing,” Mr Akase said.
Premium Times reports that the state had endured deadly aggression by suspected herdsmen for the most part of the year, leaving over a thousand dead and over 200 thousand agrarian settlers displaced from their villages.