Youths in Benue State, under the umbrella of Benue Youths Forum, BYF, have issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and other anti graft agencies in the country to begin the prosecution of the Minister of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume over alleged N4.5 billion loot.
DAILY POST recalls that the state government petitioned anti-graft agencies in the country to investigate the former lawmaker over alleged financial impropriety amounting to about N4,556,899,632.9 billion naira when he served as Governor of the state.
According to the petition, the alleged financial fraud which ranges from misappropriation of public funds, abuse of office, approvals above limit also include sale of 33,440,818 units of shares at the Benue Investment and Property Company, BIPC, also valued at billions of naira without recourse to due process.
The state government claimed that the alleged financial crime was generated from an audit report spanning 1999 – 2007 during the tenure of Akume as the state governor.
Following the allegation, Benue Youths, during a press conference on Wednesday, lauded Governor Samuel Ortom on his courageous move to unearth the alleged financial crime.
President of the group, Terrence Kuanum, who addressed the press, urged the state governor not to rely on anti graft agencies alone but involve legal actions by seeking redress in court.
He said, “We 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’a 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.
In 1999 when Akume became Governor, 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.
State funds are public funds that belong to all of us and any one who presides over our public funds should be willing to be accountable for his actions.
We are all aware of the damage corruption has done to the economy of Nigeria. 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.
We advise the Benue State Government to take the matter further to the courts and not limit it to EFCC investigation. This is a very serious corporate malfeasance against Benue State which must be redressed.
We also want to warn that we not going to 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.
We urge 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.
Benue Youth Forum assures the people of the State that it will stop at nothing to ensure that we get justice in this case on behalf of our people so that the looted funds will be brought back into our treasury to enhance the development of the state.
Consequently, we hereby give EFCC a 14-day ultimatum with effect from Tuesday November 30, 2021, 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.
We support Governor Samuel Ortom and his administration and will support any just cause his administration initiates to enhance the development of our state.
Benue is the only state we have as our heritage. We will therefore not allow saboteurs to get away with their acts of treachery, corruption and impunity”.