Benue probe panel ready to quiz ex-gov Ortom

Five weeks after the inauguration of two judicial commissions of inquiry to look into the activities of ex-Governor Samuel Ortom while in office, the PUNCH investigations reveal that they are now set to quiz him and his aides.

Our correspondent reports that the state governor, Rev Fr Hyacinth Alia, had on February 26, 2024, inaugurated the two judicial commissions of inquiry to look into the activities of his predecessor, Ortom.

The inaugurated probe panels are the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Income and Expenditure of Benue State Government from May 29, 2015, to May 28, 2023, while the other one is the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Sale/Lease of Government Assets, Companies and Markets (both state and local government owned markets), as well as moribund companies from or before May 28, 2015 to May 28, 2023.

The two commissions of Inquiry comprise 16  members with their chairmen drawn from the South-West and North-East.

They are retired Justice Taiwo Taiwo from South-West who will chair the former and Justice Appolos Idi (retd) from Gombe, North-East will preside over the latter commission.

Further findings indicate that tongues are already wagging over the cause(s) of the delay in the take-off of the probe panels.

When our correspondent contacted the state Commissioner for Justice and Public Order, Fidelis Mnyim, on Monday, he dismissed the idea of any possible obstacles that might be hindering the sitting of the panel.

Mnyim assured the residents that the panels would begin to sit from next week.

“There are no obstacles at all. The point is that the panels are waiting to begin sitting after Easter, so by next week, they will commence sitting,” the Attorney General of the state told newsmen

The two judicial commissions of inquiry are, among others, to identify the income of the Benue State Government from May 28, 2023, 2015, to May 29, 2023.

They will also look into the expenditure and utilisation of the Benue State income from 29 of May, 2015, to day 28 of May, 2023.

Also, they are to identify all the Benue State bank accounts and examine the propriety or otherwise of the transactions in the accounts from day 29 of May, 2015 to the day 28 of May, 2023.

Further more, they will identify the various loans taken by the Benue State Government from May 29, 2015 to May 28, 2023 and ascertain the appropriateness of the utilisation, interest charge on the loans and the possible abuses thereof.

The probe panels will equally identify the loan(s) given out by the Benue State Government, the alleged waiver, and the possible abuses thereof.

Finally, the panels will identify the special interventions, including but not limited to the Bailout Funds, Paris Club Refunds received by the Benue State Government from May 29, 2015 to May 28, 2023 and the application thereof.

Though the immediate past governor, Samuel Ortom, through his media aide, Terver Akase had stated that he was ready to face the panels and also urged all his aides to prepare to appear before the two panels.

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