Alia Freezes Benue Account, As Anxiety Mounts Over Alleged Plans By EFCC To Arrest Ortom
Alia and Ortom

Alia Freezes Benue Account, As Anxiety Mounts Over Alleged Plans By EFCC To Arrest Ortom

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 The newly sworn-in Governor of Benue State, Rev Fr Hyacinth Alia, has ordered the freezing of all bank accounts belonging to the state with immediate effect.

The new governor, who is a Catholic priest, gave the order during his inaugural speech on Monday, 29 May 2023 in Markurdi, the state capital.

Alia declared that the state’s bank accounts would remain frozen “until all signatories are changed” and warned that any bank that violates the instruction does so at its own risk.

He said: “May I announce that effective immediately and until further notice, all Government Bank Accounts in all Banks are hereby frozen. A ‘Post No Debit’ instruction shall remain in force until all Signatories are changed. Any Bank that violates this instruction does so at its own risk.”

The governor inherited a N187 billion debt from his predecessor, Samuel Ortom, who during hand over at the weekend said it is made up of salary arrears, loans, contractual obligations, and others.

In his inaugural speech, Alia said his government would prioritise the welfare of workers, first by clearing the backlog of salaries, pensions and gratuities owed to them and creating a system for future savings.

“We recognize the plight of our civil servants and pensioners who are owed salaries, pensions, and gratuities. We must strike a healthy balance between caring for the generation that toiled for this State (am talking here about pension and gratuity for our pensioners,) paying our serving employees a living wage and investing in the future of our children through revised curricula that meet the demands of a modern economy,” Alia stated.

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He also promised to prioritise “job creation and economic empowerment by promoting private sector-led industrialization, with a particular emphasis on agriculture.”

The governor also disclosed his intention to review the anti-open grazing law passed by the Ortom administration, which according to him, is controversial. He said the law needed to be reviewed to reflect current realities.

Meanwhile, there is palpable anxiety in the camp of the ex-governor as rumour of plans by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to arrest him spreads.

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An unconfirmed online report on Monday had it that the anti-graft agency had concluded plans to arrest and intimidate Ortom, especially now that he has lost immunity.

However, Ortom in a statement by his immediate past media aide, Mr Terver Akase, said he has nothing to hide. Akase said the former governor ran “a transparent administration” and would make himself available to the EFCC whenever called upon.

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“We read some online reports which stated that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has deployed a team of its officers to Benue State to arrest and detain the immediate past Governor of the State, Samuel Ortom over unfounded allegations.

“While we doubt the authenticity of the reports, it is pertinent to state categorically that His Excellency Samuel Ortom has nothing to hide and will be available if and whenever the EFCC invites him.

“Governor Ortom has repeatedly said that he ran a transparent administration and is willing to honour the invitation of any anti-corruption agency that wants to get clarifications on operations of his administration,” Akase stated


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