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Benue Youth Forum Backs Probe of Akume’s N4.5bn Loot

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Benue Youth Forum says, it has received with relief, the news that the Benue State Government after a thorough audit, has taken steps to seek justice by inviting the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the looted funds of the State Government during Senator George Akume’s tenure as Governor.

“We salute the courage of Governor Samuel Ortom for standing with the people of Benue once again to recover what rightfully belongs to them, especially at this time of dwindling funds from the federation account.”

Senator George Akume who served as governor of Benue on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from 1999 to 2007 is now the Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs.

The forum notes that in 1999 when Akume became Governor of Benue state, the Naira was exchanging with the Dollar at N21.89 only. Imagine the value of N4.5 billion at that time and what impact such a large amount of money would have had on the Benue economy now, if it had not been diverted by the Akume administration.

At a news conference in Makurdi, the President of the forum, Terrence Kuanum, noted that the state funds are public funds that belong to all Benue people and any one who presides over such funds should be willing to be accountable for his actions.

“We are all aware of the damage corruption has done to the economy of the country. When criminal acts such as the one the Akume administration is being accused of are allowed to go unpunished, the society suffers the dire consequences.”

“When Akume was willfully accusing Governor Ortom the other day, he thought that we had forgotten all about the financial atrocities he committed during his time. Now is that time of reckoning we warned him about. He who comes to the table of equity must come with clean hands.”

The Benue Youth Form therefore, advised the Benue State Government to take the matter further to the courts and not limit it to EFCC investigation; saying the matter is a very serious corporate malfeasance against Benue State which must be redressed.

“We also want to warn that we will not accept anything short of justice on this matter. We won’t also accept plea bargain or a political solution of any kind. Akume has insulted Benue people for too long. Let him have his day in court to prove his innocence.”

The forum also urged the EFCC to immediately swing into action and get to the root of the matter so that justice will be done to the people of Benue State, bearing in mind that no one is above the law.

It assures the people of the State that it will stop at nothing to ensure that justice in this case is obtained on behalf of the people so that the looted funds will be brought back into the treasury to enhance the development of the state.

“Consequently, we hereby give EFCC a 14-day ultimatum with effect from Tuesday November 30, 2012, to invite Senator George Akume for questioning and thereafter commence his prosecution; otherwise, we youths of Benue State will occupy the Commission’s premises and demand for justice.”

The forum declares its support to Governor Ortom and his administration and will support any just cause he initiates to enhance the development of our state.

Mr. Kuanum stated that Benue is the only state they have as our heritage and will therefore not allow saboteurs to get away with their acts of treachery, corruption and impunity.

It will be recalled that Senator Akume has accused governor Samuel Ortom of embezzlement and corrupt practices which may have prompted the administration to set up an administrative panel of inquiry to look into his record while in office.

Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in the state, Mr. Michael Gusa who briefed the press allegedly that former governor George Akume unilaterally awarded a contract of over N100 million without recourse to the approval by the Benue State Executive which is against the law.

However, in a swift reaction, the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress led by state chairman – elect, Austin Agada, alleged witch-hunt, saying the probe was target at denting the image of Senator Akume who is vying for the position of national chairman of All Progressive Congress.

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