Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has said he was ready to waive his immunity to face prosecution if need be, following allegations of fraud levelled against him by the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state.
According to the governor, the current smear campaign against him by the party indicates that the party has lost steam and has nothing to tell the people, ahead of the general elections next month.
Ortom, who stated this at a thanksgiving mass organised for him by Isherev and Utyondu communities in Guma and Makurdi local government areas, described as baseless, allegations that he had defrauded the state government to fund his private business organizations.
He stated that the expansion of the business conglomerate he established before assuming office was being funded from bank loans from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, the Bank of Industry, BOI, as well as Nexim Bank.
He said: “Before I became governor, I was a well established industrialist and although I no longer manage the companies which I set up, they are being expanded from loans obtained from various financial institutions and the records are there.”
He described as false and mischievous allegations from leaders of opposition political party in the state that he had diverted public funds into his private businesses in Nigeria and abroad.
“The recent utterances of APC leaders in Benue State showed that the opposition is bereft of what to tell the people to win votes in the coming elections,” he said.
The governor also dismissed claims that he had set up businesses abroad, threatening to take legal action against those who made the allegations.
Meanwhile, the state government has accused the federal government of converting the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to a witch-hunt tool deployed against its opponents.
The government was yesterday reacting to the press briefing by Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, in which he vowed that the Federal Government would interrogate the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on his return from the United States of America over his role in the collapse of Bank PHB.
In a statement by the Chief Press Secretary, CPS, to the Governor, Terver Akase, the government expressed shock at the remark by the Minister, describing the allegation as one of the most absurd actions of any government.
“With this move, the Buhari administration is clearly on a voyage of misplaced priorities while also usurping the functions of the country’s institutions which ought to be independent.
“The plan of the Federal Government to take over the job of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC to question the PDP flag-bearer has confirmed our earlier conclusion that the anti-graft agency has not only lost its neutrality but has also conceded its constitutional role to the APC administration.
“EFCC is now the witch-hunt tool in the hands of APC selectively unleashed on opponents of the government in power. This is contrary to the EFCC Act of 2004 which emphasizes that the Commission treats all persons and cases it investigates without bias or prejudice.
“We are confident that the current attempt by the Buhari administration to smear the reputation of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar will end as another vain chase like the previous ones.
“EFCC owes the people of this country the duty of executing its mandate without influence from the government to harass opponents. Nigeria is no one’s personal estate,” he said.