Or­tom, Suswam and ques­tion of eq­uity

Daily Trust - - INSIDE POLITICS - By Atime Ku­maga

Gov­er­nor Sa­muel Or­tom of Benue State will no doubt be go­ing through a night­mare oc­ca­sioned by the dis­cov­ery of graft at the state leg­is­la­ture which trig­gered the ar­rest of the Speaker of the state’s House of Assem­bly, Terkim­bir Ikyange and 13 other assem­bly­men by the Eco­nomic and Fi­nan­cial Crimes Com­mis­sion, EFCC.

Be­sides, other al­le­ga­tions of graft stand­ing against the gov­er­nor and some of his lieu­tenants are even dis­com­fort­ing as they ques­tion the cred­i­bil­ity of his dream (or Benue peo­ple?) to drag for­mer gov­er­nor, Gabriel Suswam to prison.

For some­one who rode into power on the crest of piety and trust to pro­tect the com­mon­wealth of the peo­ple, the un­fold­ing sce­nario can­not be any less dis­ap­point­ing and dev­as­tat­ing as flags the ques­tion of eq­uity in jus­tice.

While the al­le­ga­tion against the Speaker and his co­trav­el­ers in­cluded the al­leged mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of N750 mil­lion meant for pur­chas­ing cars for mem­bers, the gov­er­nor, on his part was ac­cused of laun­der­ing N4.2 bil­lion through the bank ac­count of Em­manuel Udende, rep­re­sent­ing Katsina-Ala, Ukum and Logo in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and two other per­sons who are staff of the state gov­ern­ment.

Gov­er­nor Or­tom was also al­leged to have paid the sum of N200m for the Democ­racy Day cel­e­bra­tion in May, 29, 2016 while another N200 mil­lion and N300mil­lion re­spec­tively were al­legedly paid to his Spe­cial Ad­viser on Spe­cial Du­ties, Arc Joe Ikyagba who is cur­rently trial for mur­der or his com­pany for the ren­o­va­tion of the School of Nurs­ing Makurdi and Akperan Or­shi School of Agri­cul­ture re­spec­tively. That of the School of Nurs­ing was later awarded to another firm to ex­e­cute.

Wor­ried by the un­fold­ing trend, a body known as Benue Youth Agenda, BYA, re­cently gave Gov Or­tom 72 hours to ad­dress what it de­scribed as “har­vest of cor­rup­tion scan­dals” rock­ing his gov­ern­ment or re­sign.

The BYA at a press con­fer­ence presided by its pres­i­dent, Pa­triot Dan Boor and sec­re­tary, Com­rade Og­wuche, I.M, said: “The good­will and trust re­posed in Gov. Or­tom has been as­sailed by wave of cor­rup­tion scan­dals in­volv­ing bil­lions of naira al­legedly si­phoned by gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials for per­sonal en­rich­ment, and this is as the econ­omy of the state is shrink­ing at an alarm­ing rate, with poverty and hunger grow­ing mon­strously across the state.

On the con­tracts in School of Nurs­ing and Akperan Or­shi Col­lege of Agri­cul­ture, BYA sought to know who the con­trac­tors han­dling the jobs are, how they won the con­tracts, the to­tal value of monies ap­pro­pri­ated and spent on the projects.

The body equally sought to know if the bank ac­count num­bers al­leged in the in pre­vi­ous pub­li­ca­tions ac­cus­ing the gov­ern­ment of money laun­der­ing ac­tu­ally be­long to the by the gov­ern­ment? “Has the Or­tom gov­ern­ment done its own in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the al­le­ga­tions, and if it has done, has it as­cer­tained the al­le­ga­tions made and the par­tic­u­lars quoted to be true or false?”

It is against this back­drop that the pur­ported call by some Benue youths un­der the tute­lage of one Ter­rence Kuanum to protest on the streets of Makurdi and Abuja to pres­sur­ize the EFCC to pros­e­cute Suswam based on the rec­om­men­da­tion of the Jus­tice Kpo­jime Com­mis­sion on the al­leged loot­ing of N107­bil­lion sounds il­log­i­cal since Or­tom is presently liv­ing in a glass house and should not throw stones.

One won­ders if Kuanum and his co­horts are aware that the en­tire Benue peo­ple are fully aware how bailout funds meant for the pay­ment of salary ar­rears has been mis­man­aged by the cur­rent APC led gov­ern­ment yet there was no noise from these same Benue youths.

Even the Jus­tice Kpo­jime Com­mis­sion which Kuanum is cur­rently us­ing as a scaf­fold­ing to mo­bilise protest was ini­tially de­scribed by Kuanum as a com­mis­sion of jam­boree. So, at what point did Kuanum see the light to rec­og­nize the rec­om­men­da­tion of the com­mis­sion?

Un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the EFCC is a N750mil­lion car scam per­pet­u­ated by the lead­er­ship of an APC speaker, Hon. Terkimbi Ikyange which has se­ri­ously af­fected the smooth run­ning of the Assem­bly.

There is no deny­ing the fact that Ter­ence Kuanum is act­ing a script of his pay­mas­ters, other­wise he would not be­labour him­self by con­tem­plat­ing a protest to rev the EFCC which al­ready have the re­port and rec­om­men­da­tions of the Kpo­jime Com­mis­sion to life. The best any in­di­vid­ual or groups can do un­der this cir­cum­stance is to write the EFCC re­mind­ing them of a pend­ing pe­ti­tion rather than mo­bil­is­ing street urchins to protest un­der the al­ready poor se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in the state.

Ter­ence Kuanum and his crowd should there­fore fol­low due process in press­ing for their spon­sored de­mands as Dr. Gabriel Suswam’s hands are clean and shall not be dis­tracted by his en­e­mies. What Dr. Gabriel Suswam re­ceived dur­ing his eight years as gov­er­nor was chan­nelled to the in­fras­truc­tural de­vel­op­ment of the state as it is ev­i­dent in the mas­sive pro­vi­sion of in­fra­struc­ture by his gov­ern­ment.

The EFCC is an in­de­pen­dent anti-graft agency that can­not be stam­peded or ru­bished by self seek­ing dis­grun­tled el­e­ments in the name of protest. The Com­mis­sion has its own modus operandi and can­not be ca­joled and brought into the dirty pol­i­tics of Benue State.

Atime Ku­maga wrote this piece from No9 School Lane Makurdi, Benue State

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