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SUSWAM LIES AGAIN

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Our attention has been drawn to a statement signed by the former
Governor of Benue State, Dr Gabriel Suswam, to the effect that his
administration did not collect the N5 billion bond which he applied
for to spend on some roads before vacating office.

He stated categorically that his administration did not collect ONE
NAIRA from that bond.
However, numerous official documents with respect to the transaction
have debunked and controverted the claims of the former Governor.

Indeed the documents have provided incontrovertible proof that the
bulk of the bond, N4. 5 billion, was diverted to offset an overdraft
which the administration took from a bank and not spent on any of the
roads as specified in the terms of the bond.

When the fraud was brought to the attention of Governor Samuel Ortom
he directed that the services of a consultant be engaged to handle the
matter and the services of Mr Michael Aondoakaa, a Senior Advocate of
Nigeria, SAN, were retained.

Consequently, he wrote a petition to the Securities and Exchange
Commission which investigated and discovered that the terms of the
bond had been breached and that the bank had colluded with the former
Governor to divert the proceeds of the bond into purposes other than
what it was intended for.

One of the documents which confirm the diversion is a letter written
by the former Accountant General, Mr Joseph Kpaakpa, and Director of
Treasury, Mr Asen Kwagh-Har to The Regional Manager, United Bank for
Africa Plc, Makurdi Branch on 1st April, 2015 that they had
"authorised the full liquidation of the overdraft facility of N4.5
billion from Bond ll proceeds account."

At a recent meeting of officials of the bank, SEC, and officials of
the state government including the Commissioner of Finance, Mr David
Olofu, and Secretary to State Government, Professor Anthony Ijohor,
SAN, the bank accepted liability and promised to refund the money.

It is therefore, surprising that Dr Suswam would deny receiving the bond.
But those who know him well testify that lying is part of his character.

They recall that when news of the sale of Benue State Government
shares first broke he denied and even took an advertorial in one of
the national dailies to refute the sale which was later confirmed to
be true. He also later sold the state's shares in Julius Berger as
well.

Every statement which Governor Ortom makes with regard to how his
predecessor conducted the affairs of state is backed by available
documents as was reflected in the report of the Justice Elizabeth
Kpojime Commission of Inquiry which uncovered the loot of over N107
billion from Benue State government coffers by the former Governor and
51 others.

In the case of the N5 billion bond there is abundant documentary
evidence of the fraud perpetrated by the former Governor.

From the forgoing and the enormous resources that came into the state
during the Suswam years he had no need to borrow at all if he were not
a kleptomaniac.

As for the Ortom administration Benue people know that borrowing was
inevitable given the circumstances of a deficit treasury and huge
financial challenges it inherited from predecessors who plundered and
brought the state to its kneels. Moreover, the people are getting full
value for what was borrowed in terms of infrastructure and other
projects in all sectors across the state.

The many lies of former Governor Suswam and his cohorts which are
targeted at smearing the hard-earned reputation of Governor Ortom and
his administration will be exposed one by one like the case at hand.

Tahav Agerzua,
Special Adviser, Media and ICT.

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