By Peter Duru, Makurdi
Benue state government has accused the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, of turning itself to the strike squad and law court of the All Progressives Congress, APC, led federal government following the commission’s alleged untoward actions against perceived opponents of the government.
Recall that the anti graft agency only few days ago froze the bank accounts of the state government only to have them unfrozen after huge outcry from Nigerians.
Reacting to Saturday’s publication by the commission where figures were bandied by the commission indicating transactions in bank accounts owned by the state government, the Chief Press Secretary, CPS, to the Governor, Terver Akase in a statement regretted that the anti graft agency had thrown itself into the political arena in contravention of its enabling act.
The statement read in part, “after succumbing to nationwide condemnation of its illegal freezing of Benue State Government accounts, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has resorted to yet another shameful act in its desperation to cripple governance in the state.
“The anti-graft agency’s latest move is the bandying of figures in national dailies claiming that such figures are those of transactions in the accounts owned by the Benue State Government.
“In The Nation newspaper of Saturday August 11, 2018, EFCC claimed among other things that a staff of the Benue State Government whose name it gave as ‘Agbo Amada’ has been sacked ‘to avoid making him available for interrogation’.
“The commission could not disclose where the said government staff worked before he was sacked obviously because such a person does not exist.
“It released figures allegedly withdrawn from the Benue State Government accounts without disclosing the dates of the withdrawals and the period during which they were made.
“The commission has also not been able to state accounts into which such monies withdrawn were paid to prove that the funds had been diverted.
“EFCC is contented with publishing the figures without stating how impropriety has been established.
“Are government monies supposed to be kept in the accounts indefinitely without expenditure? Their objective is apparently to give Governor Samuel Ortom and his administration a bad name.
“On this score, it is clear that the EFCC has now become both a strike squad of the APC for torment, and their law court for the trial and conviction of political opponents.
“Only an agency which has the mandate of ruining the reputation of persons perceived to be political opponents of the ruling party would descend to the low level the EFCC is currently heading to, by circulating figures in the conduct of a media trial of Governor Ortom.
“The agency has ridiculously assumed the role of a law court by passing judgments over political opponents as it is doing at the moment against the Governor.
“Perhaps, only in this country can such impunity be encouraged by the government at the centre.
“EFCC should be ashamed to have lied to Nigerians that it began investigation of the present administration in Benue State two years ago. The evidence is that the commission commenced the witch-hunt when it became clear that Governor Ortom was on his way out of the ruling APC.
“Since then, no day passes without the commission harassing officials of the State Government. Some of the affected officials are threatened and manhandled once they are taken into custody at the EFCC headquarters, Abuja.
“But certain things remain clear. One of them is that Nigerians are wise enough to read in between the lines to know where the smear campaign has originated and to dismiss it accordingly.
“The commission may torment and persecute Governor Ortom and his subordinates on the directives of the powers that be as much as it serves their purposes, but he will neither be distracted nor reconsider his defection from APC.
“Besides, any genuine, fair, just and equitable investigation will surely exonerate Governor Ortom.
“We alerted Nigerians about the organized smear campaign against the Governor by enemies of Benue State who are using a minority group of lawmakers in the State House of Assembly to remove the Governor.
“With their failure to impeach the Governor through the House of Assembly, the plotters quickly engaged EFCC to begin his prosecution on the pages of newspapers. This too will fail,” the statement added.