Ex-Gov. Suswam must refund looted funds – Gov. Ortom

The Benue State Governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom, on Wednesday vowed to explore every available legitimate means to recover the state’s funds allegedly looted by his predecessor, Gabriel Suswam.
Ortom, however, said the state government would continue to follow laid down due process and rule of law as the trial of the former governor progresses.
Governor Ortom spoke with State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
In line with his resolve to follow due process, Ortom said two panels have already been set up to probe the activities of the Suswam administration between 2007 and 2015 that he was in charge of the state.
He said his visit to the State House had nothing to do with his predecessor.
He said: “No, it has nothing to do with the case of my predecessor.
“The law will take its course.
“We know that just like the Federal Government and my government, we believe in the rule of law and due process.
“That has nothing to do with my predecessor.
“I am handling the matter in a legitimate manner.
“It has to do with the rule of law and due process.
“I set up two panels: one judicial panel to verify the income expenditure from 2007 to 2015, and also a panel to verify the assets of government so that we can get things in the right perspective.
“I met a deficit treasury and the people of Benue State want to know what happened to their money.
“What happened with the SURE-P money.
“What went wrong with the excess crude money that came to Benue State.
“What went wrong with the shares of government in various corporations that were sold.
“Where did the money go?
“These are questions that are begging for answers, which the people of Benue State told me to verify and am doing that.
“My predecessor went to court and stopped the process with an injunction and we have also made our facts known to the court and we are waiting for a judgment on the 9th.
“But after verification, I believe that I will ensure due process in handling the matter.”
Ortom said he discussed so many things with President Buhari, adding: “You know Benue State is entangled with a lot of challenges in security and of course the economy too.
“We know that we are not having it easy.
“Recently, the President graciously through the Central Bank of Nigeria granted us a kind of bailout, though it’s a loan, but at a single digit to be paid over a period of 20 years.
“We are already paying our workers.
“We have accessed the N28 billion, which we are paying as arrears inherited from my predecessor.
“We also thanked him for appointing our son, Chief Audu Ogbeh, as a minister of the Federal Republic and also to brief him on the security.
“So far we have been able to maintain law and order in Benue State.
“We have been able to contain crisis between herdsmen and farmers through dialogue, understanding, give and take, through win win proposition of government.
“The issue of criminality and kidnapping, raping, armed robbery and killings, for which we introduced the amnesty programme, about 700 youths came forward to embrace the amnesty and surrendered over 400 different types of weapons and ammunitions.
“It has been a huge success and tomorrow Thursday and Friday, we are holding a retreat so that we can integrate them back into the society and make them useful to the state.
“All these were things I needed to brief the President on because he gave me the go ahead when I started the amnesty programme and it has yielded results.
“Today, we have achieved relative peace back home in Benue State.
“We have been able to bring down criminality to the barest minimum and people can now go about their normal duties in the state.”