Embattled Governor of Benue State, Dr. Samuel Ortom, has accused his estranged political godfather and Senator George Akume, of offering N88 million (N4 million each) to 22 lawmakers in the state House of Assembly to fast-track his impeachment over allegation of funds misappropriation and enactment of the grazing law.
Ortom made the accusation yesterday while speaking with journalists at the Government House shortly after his state broadcast, where he gave an update on the crisis rocking the state’s House of Assembly and other challenges of his administration.
The governor, who noted that the lawmakers have rejected the largesse and reported the development to him, said after that the plan failed, the next step now by some forces in the state is to ensure the unleashing of massive Fulani militia to embark on more devastating attacks and killings in the state.
He said that already, some Fulani herdsmen, carrying over 10,000 cattle have invaded Guma, his home local government, and have started grazing on people’s farmlands.
“The senator held a meeting with the 22 lawmakers in the state assembly and offered each of them N4 million.
“They were under instruction to move a motion of impeachment against me in order to destabilise the state for not paying salaries and enacting the grazing law, but the lawmakers rejected the offer and the report filtered back to me.
“Having failed to achieve their anti-Benue objectives so far, the next phase is the unleashing of massive Fulani militia to embark on more devastating attacks and killings in the state. The most unfortunate aspect is that some sons of the state, including a serving senator (Akume) have been recruited and mobilized to lead this phase.”
The governor said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is currently probing the security votes of the state over allegations of impropriety, but noted that if the commission really wanted to do a thorough job, they should start the probe from 1999 when Akume was governor.
“If the EFCC wanted a genuine investigation of security vote spending, they should have started from the Presidency right across the 36 states. If their focus was on Benue State, they should have started from 1999. But this is not the case. With the enormous security challenges in the state since my assumption of office, it is surprising that anyone would expect me to do nothing, but keep the security vote in the safe. The security vote spending being investigated spans from 2015 to 2018, a period of grave security challenges in the state.”
Ortom said he is being persecuted for defecting to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and condemned the crisis in the Assembly where 22 lawmakers are being prevented from performing their lawful duties.
Meanwhile, a Makurdi High Court, presided over by Justice Theresa Igoche, yesterday, retrained the eight suspended members of the Benue State House of Assembly from proceeding with the impeachment process they initiated against Governor Samuel Ortom.
The judge also restrained them from sitting and upheld their suspension pending the determination of the Motion on Notice.
“The order also restrains the Chief Judge of Benue State from receiving or acting on any process or request, issued pursuant to the purported sitting, proceedings and resolutions of July 30, 2018 aimed at or commenced for the purpose of removing the governor of the state pending the determination of the Motion on Notice.”
Justice Igoche upheld the subsisting order that was earlier given by Justice Adam Onum, Chief Judge of the state, restraining the former Speaker, Terkimbi Ikyange, and other former principal officers from parading as same and ordered the security agencies to vacate the premises of the Benue State House of Assembly.