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EFCC freezes Akwa Ibom, Benue govts’ accounts

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has frozen bank accounts of Akwa Ibom and Benue governments.

 

A source alleged that “no reason was given and no court order was served” in the freezing of Akwa Ibom State accounts.

 

The freezing of Benue State government account was the allegation of misappropriation of security vote by Governor Samuel Ortom.

 

The Akwa Ibom government accounts was frozen on Wednesday money while that of Benue State was fro zen on Tuesday.

 

Both state governments could not make any transactions on the accounts yesterday.

 

Governor Udom Emmanuel and the Accountant-General of the state were said to have been shocked by the development.

 

“The governor was shocked when he was briefed about the development. He has demanded explanation from the EFCC. Our suspicion is that our big friend (senator Godswill Akpabio) who just departed is behind the issue, but we will fight this injustice,” the source said.
Impeccable source told New Telegraph last night that the Akwa Ibom State governments account was unfrozen after the close of work yesterday.

 

“No reason was given for the freezing of the Akwa Ibom State government accounts. We know it is about politics. The anti-graft agency has lifted embargo on the accounts. But we could not do anything on the accounts on Wednesday,” a top government official told our correspondent.

 

Wilson Uwujaren, spokesman of the anti-graft agency, did not respond to inquiries.

 

New Telegraph gathered that Governor Emmanuel left for Abuja to meet the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), over the matter.

 

Efforts to speak with the former Senate Minority Leader, Akpabio, on the allegation proved abortive as he was attending his defection rally in Ikot Ekpene Township Stadium.

 

Reacting to the freezing of Benue State government’s account, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Samuel Ortom, Mr. Terver Akase, alleged that it was aimed at witch-hunting his boss for dumping the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

 

He said: “Yes, it is true that accounts of the Benue State Government have been frozen by EFCC. It is part of the evil agenda to cripple the state. It is only in Benue that the EFCC is probing the security vote of the governor.

 

“It is part of the political witch-hunt against Governor 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.

 

“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.

 

“Let the Federal Government tell us how much it has spent on prosecuting the fight against Boko Haram and how much it spent on 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 victimization, intimidation and harassment as the Federal Government with its agencies is currently doing.”

 

Ortom has been having running battles with his estranged political godfather and Senator representing Benue North West, George Akume, over the control of the affairs of the state, a development that forced the governor to opt for another platform on which to actualize his second term ambition.

 

As a result of the strained relationship between the duo, the governor last month reshuffled his cabinet which consumed some loyalists of the former governor.

 

Meanwhile, the PDP has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately order the unfreezing of the official accounts of Akwa Ibom and Benue State governments, which the party said were illegally blocked by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

 

The party described the action of EFCC as a direct attack on innocent Nigerians in those states.

 

In a statement yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP described the account freezing “as illegal, unconstitutional, overtly wicked and cannot be justified under any guise within the clear dictates and contemplation of our laws and practice as a nation.”

 

The party advised the Federal Government not to hide under EFCC to unleash punishment and hardship on the people in states perceived to be aversed to President Buhari’s 2019 re-election bid.

 

“In illegally blocking the flow of funds to these states, the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government has ostensibly commenced a reprehensible design of using economic deprivation as a political tool to arm-twist governors and states to support President Buhari’s re-election in 2019.

 

“APC has been seeking ways to subjugate Nigerians, for which it has now resorted to subjecting millions of compatriots already impoverished by the misrule of the Buhari administration, to face more hardship by seizing funds legally belonging to them.

 

“Nigerians are all aware that no section of our constitution or any law in Nigeria for that matter confers any agency of the Federal Government with powers to interfere or put any restrictions on funds belonging or accruable to states as federating units of our nation.

 

“Apart from its state Assembly, no other government body or institution has the powers of appropriation or restrictions on any funds belonging to the state.

 

“PDP therefore urges Nigerians to stand up and resist this dangerous trend introduced by the desperate APC to subjugate Nigerians, for which Akwa Ibom and Benue states are now being used to test the will of the people in this direction,” PDP stated.

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