Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State who is on 10 days vacation says no dime was stolen or diverted from the local government fund believed to be N33Bn.
News broke out that such an amount was diverted by the state government from the local council joint account, but a statement signed by the chief press secretary, Terve Akase, said no funds belonging to the Local Government Councils in Benue State have been diverted by His Excellency the Governor or any other government official, contrary to the claim by a section of the online press.
Akase said the claim was a figment of the imagination of the publisher and his paymasters who he said were on a mission to smear the hard earned reputation of Governor Ortom and his administration.
The statement went on: “The general public may wish to note that the Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs carries out disbursements to Local Government Councils based on approvals by the Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC), which meets monthly to deliberate on such issues based on the accruals from the Federation Account.
”The general public may wish to also note that the Benue State Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs has decentralized the payment of salaries of workers at the third tier. Monies are sent directly to the accounts of local government councils, who then effect payment of salaries of their various staff.
”The accountant of the Bureau, Mr. Emmanuel Gbagyo, has neither met in person with the publisher of the article in question, nor has he ever spoken with him. He therefore wonders how the said publisher came across such information, except perhaps, by sheer imagination and desperation to cast aspersions on the Ortom administration.”
The governor’s team however said the governor has had running media and judicial battles with the said publisher where the governor already won N5m in a suit. The governor challenge the online publisher to prove his allegations, otherwise, the Bureau would seek legal redress. “We urge the general public to disregard the said publication. We use this opportunity to reassure chairmen of Local Governments in Benue State and indeed the general public that the Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs remains committed to the discharge of its duties anchored on the principles of accountability, fairness, probity, rule of law and truth.”