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8 Jul 2017

SUSWAM ANCHORED N4.5 BILLION OVERDRAFT ON FORGERY- GOV ORTOM

By: Tahav Agerzua

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, yesterday explained the recent recovery of N4.5 billion bond proceeds diverted by the previous administration when journalists spoke with him at the Benue Peoples House.
Can you explain the N4.5 billion recovery which you talked about a few days ago?
The issue is very clear, like we said; the whole process was anchored on falsehood, forgery and lies, that was what we discovered. As you are aware, bonds are meant for specific projects, in the case of Benue State this particular one was meant for 13 projects. These included the Daudu-Gbajimba road, Oshigbudu-Obagaji road, Wannune-Igbor road, Zaki-Biam-Afia road, Oju-Obussa-Utonkon road, the water projects in Otukpo and Katsina-Ala, all together about 13 projects. When this money came instead of channeling this money to these specific projects that this bond was approved for, it was used to service overdraft of N4.5 billion. That was where we had issues. We engaged a consultant who approached the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, and wrote a petition. SEC did an investigation and decided that this money should go back to the original use. That is what has been credited to our own account so that we can go ahead and complete those projects that originally this bond was collected for. I think I’m understood. Now the issue of overdraft and those documents that were written and used to offset the overdraft were forged by the past administration, that is where we are having a case with them. There was no executive council meeting on the day the purported extract was obtained and given to the bank that exco directed that that money should be converted to overdraft. There was no exco but the extract was generated, so it was just packaged. All the other documents that were written to the bank on this matter were not in the file and all the reference numbers were forged so this is where we have a case. But the former Governor instead of looking at the main issues bought a page in The Nation of 8th June, 2017 and denied that he collected this money. I’m not surprised. He denied selling Benue State shares in the Benue Cement Company, he denied selling Benue State shares in Julius Berger, but they were sold and the evidence is there. These are the issues. Actually they collected overdraft amounting to N4.5 billion. This we have verified from the bank and we agreed that we do not have the resources to talk of paying the overdraft within one month or sixty days as the case may be so we have to restructure. We have agreed with the bank that we will restructure the overdraft and repay in a period of four years. This is about N136 million a month. This is the issue.
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