EFCC probes Ortom over N4.29bn transfer

Barely a year in office, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has come under the searchlight of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, following allegation he caused the transfer of the state’s cash amounting to N4.29 billion from banks to unknown recipients. This came as the immediate past Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko Inde, was also arrested by the EFCC for questioning over alleged fraud and abuse of office. On the strength of the three petitions fired by insiders in Benue State government, the EFCC has already swung into action by questioning some persons close to the government in relation to the cash transfers. Ortom A top official of the commission confirmed to Vanguard, last night, that the agency received two petitions against the governor and some top officials of the administration and had already commenced investigation into the matter, even though the governor is covered by immunity while in office. He said: “I can confirm to you that the commission has received petitions against Governor Ortom and other dramatis personae over alleged diversion and other financial infractions. We have also commenced investigation into the veracity of the petitions. And I can also tell you that the commission will soon take necessary action on the matter.” Some of those named in the petitions as arrowheads of the scam are members of the state House of Assembly and the National Assembly. The official said only those not covered by immunity were being interrogated in connection with the cash movement, adding that the outcome of the commission’s probe would soon be made public. Governor Ortom, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Terver Akase, said the report was not only false but also a demonstration of mischief and ignorance by the authors of the petitions. Quizzes Inde, ex-Customs CG, over N40bn cash diversion Inde, who had been on the radar of the anti-graft agency for the past one year, was arrested and taken into the commission’s facility in Abuja for interrogation. A top official in the commission confirmed to Vanguard that Inde, who arrived the head office of the commission around 10 am, was still being quizzed at press time. According to competent source in the commission, the interrogators picked up Inde in connection with N40 billion, which he allegedly pocketed while in office. According to the source, Inde allegedly diverted the huge sum of money from the purse of the NSC. The source added that the amount accrued from the seven per cent cost of collection of Customs revenue and another one per cent Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme, which generated billions of Naira in revenue, but was largely diverted. Beyond the N40 billion said to have been diverted by Inde, EFCC is also questioning him on how he came about the over N2 billion, which he used in building what the commission described as a ‘palatial mansion’ located at 1, Audu Ogbe Street, Jabi, Abuja. The commission believes that Inde lived above his means as a public servant and might have abused his office for personal gains while serving as Customs boss. For that reason, the commission is likely going to charge Inde to court for criminal conspiracy, theft, abuse of public office and diversion of public funds, among others.

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