HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PRESENTATION OF REPORT BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE COMMISSION OF INQUIRY INTO THE SALE/LEASE OF GOVERNMENT ASSETS IN BENUE STATE FROM JUNE 2007 - MAY 2015.
Chairman Barr. Moses Atagher:
"There was complete breakdown of good governance during the period under review. Laws and guidelines guiding due process were discarded in favour of arbitrariness. The result was that different yardsticks were being administered to similar transactions. .Career civil- servants were not carried along in some of the transactions and where they were, their inputs and;-advice were often ignored. Transactions were shrouded secrecy at the highest levels and concluded without proper documentation. This has substantially accounted for the difficulties being encountered in the implementation of these transactions."
"The rational question is; why was government always coming from behind the auction sales to negotiate separate cash payments with the purchasers outside such?"
" The non-valuation of assets by Government also left the assets precariously in the hands of the Lessees who freely took over and worked out exorbitant values of their improvements unchecked. Some of the Leases were structured as if they were economic souvenirs to the Lessees, with juicy clauses;
(a) giving them hope in the lease agreements that they would be given the, first right to buy the asset in the event of privatisation or any form of divestment of Government interest.
(b) authorizing them to use the assets to secure loans from the banks without prescribing any limits."
"The Commission also discovered, cases of money and property laundering transactions amounting to hundreds of millions of naira under beautifully crafted agreements from which the State Government was defrauded. Because of their primafacie criminal, nature,, the Commission has recommended : that these transactions be referred to the appropriate agencies for proper investigation and recovery."
" In the course of implementing the sale of' Government assets under the monetisation policy, cases of property laundering featured. Some highly placed political office holders used dummy names to buy more residential quarters than they were entitled. In one of such cases(GP 33 Old GRA Makurdi), the transaction failed as the civil servant UkpenDavid (Dave Ukpen) whose name was used, openly admitted."
Governor Samuel Ortom's response:
I thank and commend you the Chairman and members of the commission for the detailed work you have done. As I promised the people of the state in my inaugural address on May 29 last year, we will uphold the things that were rightly done by the previous administration but boldly correct the things that were wrongly done. In our commitment to doing this, we will not be swayed by sentiments, blackmail or even threats by those who sought to mortgage the future of our state. We will also not witch hunt anyone so those who have a clear conscience about their stewardship to Benue need not fear.
"I will set up a committee to study the report and come up with a white paper. Let me assure the people of the state that we will fully implement recommendations of the white paper."
"Thank you once again and God bless you."