The benue state government has released a statement on the $24 million allegations leveled against it by the former governor of the state, Gabriel suswam. The statement read;
Our response to former Governor Gabriel Suswam’s statement being circulated that his administration did not receive $24 million Paris and London Clubs refund is simple. As Governor Samuel Ortom already said, a probe will be launched into the matter and findings made public in accordance with the transparency policy of the Ortom administration.
Besides Benue people already know which administration is transparent as they can all hear and see for themselves. For the first time in the history of Benue, the people know precisely how much the state gets and how the funds are managed. The same approach is being applied in the handling of the just received Paris and London Clubs refund.
As soon as the N12.7 billion hit the account of the state, Governor Ortom broke the news and explained what the funds will be used for – payment of salaries with half of the amount. This approach is a sharp departure from the secretive manner state funds were handled during the previous administration.
Moreover, since the records of the transactions regarding the $24 million which the former Governor received on behalf of the state but are still available, we have incontrovertible proof.
Contrary to the former governor’s claim, it is not the first time that the present administration has brought the matter of the said refund to the attention of the people of the state. The Justice Elizabeth Kpojime Commission of Inquiry’s report also talked about the refund of part of the Paris and London clubs loan among other funds that accrued to the state under the administration of Suswam. The Commission urged the government to further probe over N44 billion it could not conclude investigation upon for want of time.
If the past administration had administered the finances of the state prudently there would have been no need to secure a loan to offset salary arrears as a judicial commission of inquiry established the looting of over N107 billion by 52 key players of the previous administration.
While there is no proof of any funds diversion under Governor Ortom, there is abundant documentary evidence to substantiate theft of the figures mentioned above and much more under former Governor Suswam.