The local council bosses mostly women sacked in Benue State have faced criminal charges with one day. This has increased the political tension that has ravaged Benue State in the aftermath of the governor, Samuel Ortom, defecting from the APC to the PDP with his former camp now divided.
The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Benue State, Mr Michael Gusa filed direct criminal charges against the six local government chairmen suspended the previous day by the Benue State House of Assembly for alleged conspiracy, breach of trust, cheating, and misappropriation of public funds.
The six suspended chairmen charged to court include Austin Okwoche of Oju Local Government Council, Mrs Juliana Audu of Makurdi, Mrs Beckie Orpin of Gboko and Mrs Comfort Echoda of Agatu as well as her Vice, Joseph Ngbede. Others are Terdoo Kenti of Kwande and his Vice, Andrew Orvande as well as Francis Ogwuche of Okpokwu.
In the suit filed by the State Director, Citizens Rights, Ministry of Justice Makurdi, Mr Peter Agbese, on behalf of the Attorney General of Benue State, the Chairman of Agatu LGA, Mrs Comfort Echoda and her Deputy, Joseph Ngbede, allegedly conspired and converted to their personal use, the sum of N150 million being local government funds from federal allocation, contrary to the penal code of Benue State.
The State counsel also alleged that, the suspended Chairman of Gboko local government, Mrs Becky Orpin diverted and misappropriated the sum of N20 million been funds meant for National Home Grown School Feeding Programme, as well as converted the sum of N5 million meant for 2018 Christmas celebration to her personal use.
Mr Agbese further stated that the Chairman of Okpokwu local government council, Mr Francis Ogwuche allegedly misappropriated the sum of N32 million meant for the mass burial of victims of Omusu massacre by militia herdsmen last year, in addition to N5 million meant for 2017 Christmas package.
The Chairman of Oju local government council, Mr Austine Okwoche, is accused of alleged misappropriation of N120 million being local government funds from the federal allocation.
Mr Agbese further alleged that the Chairman of Makurdi local government council, Mrs Juliana Audu misappropriated the sum of N20 million meant for providing security in Mbalagh Ward of Makurdi local government area.
The Chairman of Kwande local government, Mr Terdoo Kenti and his Deputy, Andrew Orvande allegedly conspired and converted over N168 million being funds from federal allocation. The Chief Magistrate, Mr Isaac Ajim adjourned the case to February 5, 2019 for mention.
Ortom and George Akume had teamed up to wrestle power in the state in 2015 but fell apart in 2018. Most of those serving Ortom from the Akume camp have been steadily wed out, which could be such persons usually resign in advanced democracies ahead.