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Monday, April 15, 2024

Benue State judicial inquiry set to question former governor Ortom, aides

Investigative Panels to Scrutinize Expenditure and Asset Transactions During Ortom's Administration

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Five weeks after their inauguration, the two judicial commissions of inquiry tasked with scrutinizing the tenure of former Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom are poised to interrogate him and his aides over alleged financial improprieties and asset transactions.

Upon assuming office on February 26, 2024, Governor Rev Fr Hyacinth Alia inaugurated the commissions to investigate Ortom’s administration. The panels, namely the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Income and Expenditure of Benue State Government and the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Sale/Lease of Government Assets, Companies, and Markets, consist of 16 members each, chaired by retired justices from different regions.

Despite initial delays in the commencement of the panels’ proceedings, Fidelis Mnyim, the state Commissioner for Justice and Public Order, affirmed that they would begin sitting after Easter, reassuring residents of the state of a prompt initiation.

The commissions’ mandate encompasses a broad spectrum of inquiries, including identifying the state government’s income, expenditures, bank accounts, loans, and special interventions from May 29, 2015, to May 28, 2023. Additionally, they will assess the propriety of financial transactions, loans, waivers, and the utilization of bailout funds and refunds during Ortom’s tenure.

While Ortom has expressed readiness to cooperate with the panels, urging his aides to do the same, speculations abound regarding the implications of the investigations on the state’s political landscape and the accountability of its former leadership. As the inquiries prepare to unfold, they signal a pivotal moment in Benue State’s pursuit of transparency and governance accountability.

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