Top Officials In Benue Test Positive For COVID-19

File Photo: TARSO SARRAF / AFP

 

Top government officials in Benue State, including the Secretary to the State Government, Professor Tony Ijohor, the Chief of Staff, Terwase Orbunde, the Head of Service, Veronica Onyeke and the Vice Chancellor, Benue State University, Moses Kembe, have all tested positive to the COVID-19.

Alarmed by the new development, Governor Samuel Ortom has hinted about the likely reversal of the earlier order to reopen markets across the state, worship centres and schools, as part of efforts to contain the spread to residents, whom the governor has asked to take responsibility for their own safety.

Already, a team has been deployed to decontaminate the governor’s official residence where his family, domestic staff and close aides may have had contacts with people and items that can be conveyors of the virus.


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On Friday, the governor’s wife, Eunice Ortom and their son also tested positive for the virus.

She confirmed this in a statement signed herself, adding that she has gone into total isolation and has commenced treatment.

Benue Govt. Denies Rumour Of First COVID-19 Death

A photo showing the map of Benue, a state in North-Central Nigeria.
An image showing the map of Benue, a state in North-Central Nigeria.

 

The Benue State Action Committee on COVID-19 has faulted reports that the state recorded its first COVID-19 death in one of its facilities.

According to the committee, contrary to reports that COVID-19 was responsible for the death, the deceased was operated on for leukaemia but started coughing three days to his death and his sample was taken to Abuja for testing.

Chairman of the committee, Mr Benson Abounu who was responding to the alleged death of the patient, said the patient died on Monday morning and his result came back positive that evening, making it difficult to tell the actual cause of death, especially haven been dealing with a more complicated health condition.

Mr Abounu also confirmed that three medical doctors, two drivers and another health worker, all tested positive in the cause of responding and managing COVID-19 patients whose number have risen to 47 as the time of the briefing.

He also disclosed that the Northern Governors’ Forum has ordered for 25 mobile testing trucks to help curb the spread of the virus which he blamed on the easing of the lockdown nation-wide.

Benue Insists On Conducting Chairmanship, Councillorship Elections Amid COVID-19

 

The Benue State Independent Electoral Commission, insists it will go ahead to conduct elections into chairmanship and councillorship positions tomorrow May 30, in spite of the coronavirus pandemic which has crippled major activities across the world.

Speaking exclusively to Channels Television in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, chairman of the state electoral body, Mr Loko Tersoo Joseph noted that preventive measures such as physical distancing of 1.5 meters will be kept between each voter, while washing of hands with soap and the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers will be encouraged.

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The election was initially billed for November 2019 but was shifted due to logistics issues, only for the coronavirus to further complicate things.

Currently, the total number of infections in the country has risen to 8,915, out of which 2,592 have recovered while 259 have died.

Of all 36 states, Benue, however, has one of the least number of infections with seven infections.

Benue Insecurity: Ortom Reads Riot Act To Traditional, Political Leaders Shielding Criminals

Governor Samuel Ortom

 

Political and traditional leaders in Benue State have been warned to wash their hands off the operation of criminal and militia groups.

They have also been warned to stay clear from security operations aimed at flushing out those already identified as perpetrators of the violence, lest they face the wrath of the law.

These warnings form the highlights of decisions taken at the stakeholders security meeting held at the Benue State government house on Monday, following the killing of a militia gang leader popularly known as Orjunde by troops of Operation Whirl Stroke at the weekend.

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Addressing journalists after the meeting, Governor Samuel Ortom warned that, no matter how highly placed in society a person is, anyone caught aiding or interfering in security operations going forward, will be treated as accomplice to the criminals.

In a related development, Governor Ortom also inaugurated the Benue state community policing advisory council headed by the commissioner of police with a charge to end hostilities in the state.

He noted that the latest steps taken have been long overdue and will aid the current strategy for checking violent crimes within Benue State.

Three Killed In Renewed Attack On Benue Community

Gunmen Shoot Returning Officer While Conveying Result In Benue

 

Three persons have been killed in Jootar community of Ukum Local Government Area (LGA) of Benue State by suspected Jukun militia from Taraba State.

Channels Television gathered that the militia stormed the border town at 4:00 am on Wednesday, shooting sporadically, and burning down several houses as residents fled for safety.

A local in the area claimed that over half of the community was razed by the criminals who unleashed terror on the rural residents and caused them to flee their homes.

The villager also alleged that the Jukun militia, before the latest early morning attack, had blocked the road on Tuesday and killed four commuters of Tiv origin.

“I’m in Jootar right now. The level of destruction is massive; not less than 1,000 houses were destroyed. We are still recovering bodies but so far we have identified three corpses,” the LGS Chairman, Tor-Tyokaar Ibellogo, told Channels Television.

When contacted, the Force Commander of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS), Major General Adeyemi Yekini, confirmed an attack in the area but added that he was not yet aware of the causalities.

“There was an attack in Jootar this morning. I’m not aware of anybody killed but my troops are on ground there. If there is anybody killed, I will know later. But right now, my troops are there,” Yekini stated.

On her part, the Police Public Relations Officer of the Benue Command (PPRO), DSP Catherine Anene, said three corpses were recovered at the scene and that investigation into the matter was in progress.

Benue Records First Case Of Coronavirus

 

Benue State has recorded its first case of coronavirus after eight new cases were confirmed in the country.

The Nigeria Center For Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed this at 4:00 pm on Saturday, noting that seven of the cases are in Lagos while the other is in Benue State.

The new cases now bring the total number of infected persons in Nigeria to 89.


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Police Rescue Kidnapped Benue State Director, Arrest Suspects

Benue State Director of treasury, Mr Geoffrey Agada, flanked by sympathisers after being rescued by a police team.

 

The Benue State Director of Treasury, Mr Geoffrey Agada, who was kidnapped by a five-man syndicate from his home in Makurdi on Thursday has been rescued by the police.

The kidnappers had made a demand of N50 million as ransom before the victim would be released.

Presenting the victim to Governor Samuel Ortom at the government house on Sunday, the state commissioner of police, Mr Mohammed Mukadass said, Mr Agada was rescued after a gun battle with the kidnappers, leading to some arrest and the recovery of one AK47 rifle.

“About three days ago, Mr Agada was kidnapped by gunmen at around 5pm. We have been working round the clock to see how we can rescue him unhurt and alive; they made a demand of about N50 million but we played with time and worked on credible intelligence and we had an encounter with them and Mr Agada has been rescued.

“No ransom was paid, and we are still investigating and looking for more of the suspects,” he added.

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Governor Ortom who spoke on the development thanked the police for the rescue operation without paying a ransom to the criminals.

“Agada is one of my most dedicated staff In the finance department of Benue state.

“I want to use this opportunity to thank the commissioner of police for the wonderful work they are doing to stamp out criminality.”

He vowed to strengthen the state anti-kidnapping law and increase support to security agencies to support their operations.

Supreme Court Affirms Election Of Ortom, Fintiri

Governor Samuel Ortom

 

The Supreme Court has affirmed the election of Samuel Ortom as the Governor of Benue State.

Emmanuel Jime of the All Progressives Congress (APC), had dragged Ortom to court over allegations of over-voting and other electoral malpractices during the 2019 governorship elections.

But in a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta on Tuesday, the apex court agreed with the concurrent findings of the election petition tribunal and the Court of Appeal that Ortom was the winner of the election.

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In another judgment delivered by Justice Mohammed Datijo, the apex court upheld the election of Ahmadu Fintiri as the Governor of Adamawa State.

The court held that the appellant failed to prove the allegation of over-voting and other infractions he listed in his petition.

ICPC Arraigns Two For N4.7billion Fraud In Benue

ICPC Partners OAGF, BPP To Prevent Corruption In MDAs

 

 

Two officials of the Benue State Government, Mr. Stephen Amase, Principal Private Secretary to the Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom and Mr. Manger T Emmanuel, a former Commissioner of Works and presently, Special Adviser, Ministry of Energy, Science and Technology, Benue State have been arraigned by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) before the Benue State High Court sitting in Makurdi, Benue State and presided over by Justice S.O Itodo.

The duo were arraigned for conferring unfair advantage upon themselves and for holding indirect private interest in a contract valued at N4,766,858,449.63(Four billion seven hundred and sixty-six million eight hundred and fifty-eight thousand four hundred and forty-nine naira, sixty-three kobo) only, an offence which contravenes Sections 12 and 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

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The prosecution counsel for ICPC, Mr. G. O Iwuagwu informed the Judge that sometime in March 2016, the first accused person, Mr. Stephen Amase while being a public servant as the Principal Private Secretary to the Governor of Benue State, conferred unfair advantage upon himself by using his position to secure the award of a contract to Tongyi New International Construction Limited for the sum of N4,766,858,445.63, from the government he is serving, thereby committing an offence contrary to and punishable under section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

Iwuagwu also told the Judge that the second accused person, Mr. Manger T.Emmanuel conspired with the Principal Private Secretary by using his position to award a contract to an unqualified company Tongyi New International Construction Limited for the sum of N4,766,858,445.63, in a deliberate act of misleading the State Tenders Board and State Executive Council in the award of the contract, thereby committing an offence contrary to and punishable under section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

The counts were read and the accused persons pleaded not guilty, the defence counsel, Mr. C. A. K. Asheka, SAN made application for their bail, which was not opposed by the prosecution counsel.

Justice Itodo granted them bail in the sum of N10,000,000 with one surety each of not less than grade level 16 and serving with the Benue State Government. The sureties are to deposit evidence of ownership of landed property within Makurdi metropolis.

The case was adjourned to 5th, 6th and 7th of February, 2020 for further hearing.

Court Orders Interim Forfeiture Of Jonathan Terlumun Akputu’s Property

 

A Federal High Court, Makurdi, Benue State, presided over by Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon has ordered the interim forfeiture of a property belonging to one Jonathan Terlumun Akputu.

The order was made on Wednesday October 30, 2019, sequel to a motion Ex-parte filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Makurdi zonal office through its counsel, G. G. Chia-Yakua dated October 24, 2019, praying the Court for the following orders:

“An Interim order forfeiting to the Federal Government of Nigeria the four bedroom duplex building known and described as Plot NO. 1, Chief Akputu Close, Judges Quartres Makurdi, in the schedule here in.

“An order directing the publication of a notice in the National Newspaper and EFCC website inviting all person/bodies who may have interest in the said property to show cause within 14 days from the date of publication why it should not be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria”.

Moving the application on Wednesday October 30, 2019, Chia-Yakua told the court that the property described is a subject matter of investigation found in the possession of Jonathan Terlumun Akputu and is reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities, corrupt practices and money laundering.

“That in whose possession the property was found is under investigation for criminal misappropriation of depositors’ money, corruption by a banker, misappropriation and money laundering.

“That there is need to preserve the property pending the making of a final forfeiture order in this matter.

“That any transaction on the property by Jonathan Terlumun Akputu or his heirs, solicitors, agents by way of disposal, conveyance, mortgage, lease, sale and alienation or otherwise of the said property may render any subsequent final forfeiture order made by the Court nugatory.

“The applicant in the affidavit, further stated that the investigation leading to the identification of the property commenced following receipt of intelligence report and a petition from A. J. Ogbo Esq and Adolzy Management Consultant against the respondents”.

Thereafter, Justice Olajuwon ruled that “an order is hereby made forfeiting in the interim, a property set out in the schedule attached to this application, to the Federal Government of Nigeria, pending the hearing and determination of the trial in Charge No. FHC/MKD/CS/76/2019”.

The matter was then, adjourned to November 20, 2019 for further mention.

Ortom Asks FG To Extend Border Closure To Foreign Herdsmen

A file photo of Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom.

 

The Benue State Governor, Mr Samuel Ortom, has appealed to the Federal Government to extend its border closure to include foreign herdsmen who allegedly have unfitted access into Nigerian territories with arms to attack communities including those in Benue.

The governor made the appeal on Monday when he visited a female victim of herdsmen attacks whose limb had been amputated over the weekend while working on her farm in Guma Local Council of Benue State.

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He lamented that Nigerians cannot afford to live in fear in their own country.

Ortom also reiterated the need to ban all forms of open grazing in the country and establish ranches for coordination and security profiling of all those keeping herds of animals.

Killings: Benue Security Council Suspends Three Traditional Rulers

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom

 

The Benue State Security Council has suspended three traditional rulers following the crisis which resulted in the killing of nine persons in the state at the weekend.

Those suspended include the district head of Mbacher, Mr Luke Atomigba for allegedly inciting and sponsoring the crisis while the Third Class chiefs of Chongo and Ipuusu were suspended for alleged negligence and pursuit of clannish interest, fueling the crisis.

Briefing journalist on the resolutions reached after a long meeting, Chairman of the Council and Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, recommended the suspended chiefs for further disciplinary measures.

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He also urged security agencies to spare no militia, youth or politician involved in the crisis and killings.

The incident occurred in the early hours of Saturday, during the burial of one Tor Amaafu, in Tongov district of Katsina-Ala Local Government Area.

According to an eyewitness, gunmen numbering over 10, opened fire on the mourners, killing four persons at the time and leaving several others injured.

The death toll later rose to nine.