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Alia sets up panels to investigate ex-governor Ortom

Governor Hyacinth Alia of Benue on Tuesday inaugurated two judicial commissions of inquiry to investigate the administration of former governor, Samuel Ortom.

Ortom is the immediate past governor of the state.

The commissions are the Benue Income and Expenditure Commission of Inquiry 2024 and the Sale/Lease of Government Assets, Companies, and Markets (both State and LG Markets) Moribund Companies Commission of Inquiry 2024.

Alia said while inaugurating members of the commissions that the inquiry was to promote accountability, transparency and good governance.

The income and expenditure inquiry commission is chaired by retired Justice Taiwo with Dr Abraham Gberindyer as Secretary, while retired Justice Appolos Idi would chair the assets and moribund companies inquiry commission with John Edigbo as Secretary.

Alia said the commissions would investigate the eight-year tenure of Ortom from May 29, 2015 to May 28, 2023, and have six months to submit their reports.

The governor said that the judicial commissions were constituted in line with the Commission of Inquiry Law (Cap 40) Laws of Benue State, 2004.

He stressed that the investigation was not mere bureaucratic endeavour but a response to the earnest desires and hopes of Benue people, who are critical stakeholders and owners of the state and its resources.

“The future prosperity of Benue hinges on the prudent and judicious management of our resources.

“As we usher in a new era characterized by prioritising the welfare of our people, it is imperative and quite incumbent upon us to ensure that every Naira expended serves the collective interest and propels the growth and development of our state.

“Thus, it is incumbent upon us to scrutinise the management of our common resources during the specified periods.

“This inquiry is not rooted in distrust but in our commitment to the principles of accountability, transparency, and good governance, and for safeguarding the interests of the good people of Benue,” he said.

Alia said the income and expenditure commission of inquiry would identify the income, expenditure and utilisation of the funds that accrued to the coffers of the state government within the period of the investigation.

It is also to identify all state accounts and examine the propriety or otherwise of the transactions in the accounts, identify the loans taken and ascertain the appropriateness of the utilization, interest charged on the loans and the possible abuses thereof.

“To identify special interventions, including but not limited to the Bailout Funds and Paris Club Refunds received by the Benue State Government from May 29, 2015 to May 28, 2023 and the applications thereof to determine the internally generated revenue and the utilization of same.

“Identify cases of misappropriation, abuse, misuse and diversion of Benue State funds from May 29, 2015 to May 28, 2023.

“Identify those involved in all contracts issued within the period, the state wage bill and number of ghost workers that were receiving salaries amongst others.”

According to the governor, the assets and moribund companies commission of inquiry will identify all government properties, companies and markets sold or leased by the administration of Ortom.

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It will also determine the status and correct value of the properties sold or leased at the time.

“They will generally review all such transactions and advise the government on the appropriate action in the interest of the people and good governance,” the governor added.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that in 2015, Ortom also probed the administration of his predecessor, Sen. Gabriel Suswam. 

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