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.

Ortom Closes Defense Before Governorship Election Tribunal

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom

 

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has closed his defence at the governorship election petition tribunal sitting in Makurdi, after calling a witness in the petition filed by Mr Emmanuel Jime of the All Progressive Congress challenging his re-election.

Counsel to the governor, Mr Sebastian, who was the second respondent, told the tribunal that the cross-examination of the petitioner’s witnesses and their failure to sign the witness statements on oath, showed the petitioner’s inability to prove the allegation of irregularities at the poll.

On his part, counsel to the petitioner, Mr Kehinde Eleja, told journalists at the end of the sitting, that the petitioner has sufficiently proven its case of over-voting.

He said he believed the tribunal would determine that the use of card readers was compulsory in the 2019 general election.

Troops Arrest Kidnappers In Benue, Nasarawa

New Salary Scale Has Not Been Approved For Armed Forces – DHQ

 

Troops of ‘Operation Whirl Stroke’ (OPWS) have arrested 10 suspects for armed banditry and kidnapping in Benue and Nasarawa States.

Parading eight of the suspects before newsmen at the operation whirl stroke headquarters in Makurdi at the weekend, the commander, Major General Adeyemi Yekini said five suspects were arrested in Toto and Awe Local Government areas of Nasarawa State while five others were arrested in Benue State.

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General Yekini also noted that one of the suspects was shot dead during the fire exchange at Zaki-Biam in Ukum Local Government Area of Benue State while an AK-47 riffle was recovered from him.

RUGA Settlement: Benue Govt Debunks Claims By Presidency

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom

 

The Benue State Government has described statements attributed to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on media and publicity, Garba Shehu on the Ruga settlement on states by the federal government as false and misleading.

Mr Shehu had specifically cleared the air on Channels TV news at 10 on Monday, that Benue state was not included in the Federal Government’s Ruga plan, insisting that the initiative is voluntary.

According to a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Benue State Governor, Mr Terver Akase, the Federal Government, through its ministry of agriculture wrote to the Benue state government informing it about the decision to establish Ruga settlements in the three senatorial zones of the state.

READ ALSO: Ruga Settlement Same As Cattle Ranching – Garba Shehu

The spokesman added that the State Ministry of Agriculture which received the correspondence replied the Federal Ministry, stating clearly that Benue state had no land for the Ruga settlements, but has land for ranches as stipulated by the state’s open grazing prohibition and ranches establishment law of 2017.

“Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Garba Shehu made last night during the 10 pm news of Channels Television. He stated that Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom should not have spoken against the imposition of Ruga settlements on his state because, according to the Presidential spokesman, the Governor was not included in the Ruga plan.

“The statement was as contradictory as it was false, misleading and lacking honour.

“The Federal Government, through its Ministry of Agriculture wrote to the Benue State Government informing it about the decision to establish Ruga settlements in the three senatorial zones of the state.

“Our Ministry of Agriculture which received the correspondence responded that Benue has no land for the Ruga settlements. It added that the state only has land for ranches as stipulated by the state’s Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017.”

He added that the Benue Government openly rejected the Ruga model, describing it as illegal.

“The Benue State Government subsequently made public its rejection of the Ruga model of animal husbandry and reminded those pushing for the illegal settlement patterns about provisions of the country’s Constitution and the Land Use Act.

“If the Senior Special Assistant to the President claims that Benue was not included in the Ruga arrangement, why did the Federal Government send contractors to mount the project’s signposts in parts of the state? If Benue was not included in the Ruga settlements, why did the Federal Government say it has gazetted lands in the 36 states for the project?

 

At Least 30 Feared Killed In Benue Petrol Tanker Accident

Gunmen Shoot Returning Officer While Conveying Result In Benue

 

At least 30 people are feared dead while many others are said to have sustained various degrees of burns after a petrol-laden tanker exploded in Benue State.

The explosion occurred on Monday at Ahumbe Village in Gwer East Local Government Area of the state after the tanker fell along the Aliade–Makurdi highway.

According to eye-witnesses, the accident also affected some houses and residents around the area.

One of the men from the fire service was also reported to have been seriously burnt while attempting to put out the inferno.

While those who sustained injuries were rushed to the hospital for treatment, corpses have now been moved to the mortuary.

Meanwhile, men of the Federal Road Safety Corps and the Police were, however, deployed to clear the heavy traffic, while the bodies were moved to the mortuary and the wounded taken for treatment.

No Land Has Been Gazetted For Ruga Settlements, Says Benue Govt

A Hausa-Fulani boy stands while his cattle is grazing near some farms in the outskirts of Sokoto,  AFP 

 

The Benue State Government has said that there is no land in the state that has been gazetted for grazing routes, grazing reserves, cattle colonies and Ruga settlements.

The Presidency had earlier claimed in a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Garba Shehu that lands have been gazetted in the 36 states of the federation to establish Ruga settlements for herdsmen.

Chief Press Secretary to Benue State Governor, Terver Akase, in a reaction to the statement, asked the FG to publicly tender documents of the claimed gazetted lands in Benue State.

“We read the statement issued yesterday by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Garba Shehu in which the Presidency stated that it has gazetted lands in the 36 states of the federation to establish Ruga settlements for herdsmen.

“We wish to make it clear that no land in Benue State has been gazetted for grazing routes, grazing reserves, cattle colonies and Ruga settlements, contrary to the Presidency’s claim.

“We expect the Federal Government to publicly tender documents of the claimed gazetted lands in Benue State to put the matter to rest.”

READ ALSO: Taraba Youths Stage Protest Over Ruga Settlement

Mr Akase also restated the position of the Benue Government on the Ruga project, adding that pieces of evidence of compensation should be provided by the Federal Government.

“The Federal Government should show titles to the lands it claims to have in Benue State, the evidence of compensation it paid to owners of such lands, as well as the purpose for which the lands were acquired.

“The Benue State Government has already made known its stand on the Ruga settlements matter that the state will not be part of the project. This was why the government and people of the state rejected the attempt to impose the Ruga settlements projects on them without the consent and approval of the Governor who controls and administers all lands in the state in trust for the people.”

He added that any persons, who intend to set up a livestock ranch, should do so based on the position of the law.

“We wish to restate that there is a law in Benue State which encourages ranching and prohibits open grazing of livestock. The law is a win-win for herders and farmers, as it protects all. Anyone who intends to establish a livestock ranch in Benue State is encouraged to follow the procedure stipulated by the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017.”

Benue Assembly Condemns Implementation Of Ruga Settlement

 

The Benue State house of Assembly has condemned recent plans by the Federal Government to establish Ruga settlements across the country.

Speaker of the Assembly, Honourable Titus Uba, at a media briefing, told journalists that contrary to the claims that it would stop open-grazing by herdsmen and end the herders-farmers crisis, the FG has no constitutional powers to allocate land for the establishment of Ruga-Fulani settlements.

“It is with deep sense of patriotism and genuine concern for the welfare of the people of Benue state that I rise to condemn in strong terms, recent plans by the Federal Government to establish a Ruga settlement across the country which has been approved by President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration which the FG claimed, will stop open grazing by Herdsmen and end herders/farmers crisis across the country.

“I hereby clearly state that the FG cannot freely allocate land for the establishment of Ruga Fulani settlement in Benue state and the Benue State Government will not give out the land  for the Ruga initiative; even as there is inadequate land to meet the farming needs of the agrarian communities in the state.”

READ ALSO: Benue Youths Protest Planned Ruga Settlement For Herdsmen

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Honourable Uba further stated the position of the state Assembly, while showing support to the full implementation of the open grazing law.

“Therefore, the 9th Benue State House of Assembly as a parliament condemns in totality plans by any individual, group of the Federal Government to allocate any portion of land within the Benue territory for such a questionable project, instead support the full implementation of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017 as ranching remains global best practice.

“I hereby categorically state that the BSHA reject the move for Fulani Ruga settlement in Benue state, and instead, support the full implementation of the open grazing prohibition and ranches establishment law 2017, as ranching remains a global best practice.

“Benue House is 100% in support of Governor Samuel Ortom and the people of the state on the enforcement of the anti-open grazing law as a panacea for ending herders/farmers conflict.”

Youths from various Benue communities on Friday protested against the planned Ruga Farm settlement in the state.

The youths claim that the planned Ruga settlement for herders violates Open Grazing Law in the state and will instigate violent clashes between farmers and herders in the state.

Benue Government Imposes Curfew On Katsina-Ala Town

Gunmen Shoot Returning Officer While Conveying Result In Benue

 

The Benue State Government has imposed a 24 hour-curfew on Katsina-Ala town of the state with effect from today, Monday April 22, 2019 as part of efforts to restore peace and ensure the security of lives and property in that part of the state.

This is according to the chief press secretary of the state, Ede Ogaba Ede.

The curfew which comes into immediate effect shall be reviewed as the situation demands, Ede said.

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Acting Governor of the State, Engineer Benson Abounu urged the people of Katsina-Ala to cooperate with security operatives by obeying the curfew.

The Government warned that anyone found fomenting trouble in the area or in other parts of the state will be apprehended and punished according to law.

The Benue State Government reassured the people that more security personnel have been deployed to Katsina-Ala to end the crisis, and it will continue to give security agencies every needed support to succeed.

Benue Election: Ortom Dedicates Victory To Supporters, Extends Hand Of Collaboration

Governor Samuel Ortom has dedicated his victory to his supporters and the people of Benue State for re-electing him for a second tenure.

Ortom, while addressing a press conference at the government house in Makurdi on Sunday, promised to set up a truth and reconciliation committee for genuine peace and development across the state, as extended a hand of collaboration to his opponents to join him in building the state.

“I dedicate the victory to the good people of Benue state for standing with me, especially all members of the PDP. I call on all those who contested, to join me so that together we shall build the Benue of our collective dream.”

Ortom was today declared winner of the March 9th governorship election after weeks of many political face-offs with his former political associates in the APC and now enjoins them to let peace reign.

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“I know that partisan politics is over now and it’s about governance. The platform I secured to become an elected governor of Benue state is the PDP. Automatically, I have become the governor of all political parties in Benue state.”

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom speaks with Channels Television on the postponement of the general elections on February 16, 2019.

“As we celebrate, let us engage in peaceful behaviours and reconciliation. Avoid use of hurtful and insulting political words. I will set up a peace reconciliatory committee so we can find ways to forgive one another.”

Meanwhile, governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Emmanuel Jime, has declared that he will approach the election petition tribunal to reclaim his allegedly stolen mandate by incumbent governor, Samuel Ortom.

Jime who spoke exclusively to Channels Television alleged that a lot of votes secured by governor Ortom, were in clear violation of the electoral act which states that only votes captured by the card reader should be allowed, accusing the PDP of massive vote rigging.

The returning officer, Professor Maimako Sebastian while declaring governor Samuel Ortom winner said, Ortom polled 434,473 votes to beat Jime who got 345,155 votes with a lead margin of 89,318 votes after the final result of the final ballot.