The governor said his government would not condone any act of criminality or defend anyone who had a hand in fraud.
Recall that the Speaker of Benue State House of Assembly, Terkinbi Ikange; his deputy, James Ikefe; the Majority Leader, Benjamin Adanyi; Deputy Majority Leader, Nick Eworo; the Minority Leader, Sule Audu; and 10 other members were arrested and detained on Monday in Abuja by the EFCC.
It was gathered that though they were let off the hook via bail on Wednesday evening after spending three days in detention, another seven members had been summoned by Commission to appear for questioning on Friday (today).
Answering questions from State House Correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential Villa, Abuja, Governor Ortom said in a matter of corruption, no one would be spared.
Ortom also vowed to recover N107 billion looted from the state treasury by the government of former Governor Gabriel Suswam.
He said: “Yes it is a good thing, it is part of the process.
“They are under investigation by the EFCC.
“From day one I brought up a slogan that ‘if you chop money, money will chop you’.
“We have to be careful and I have sent signals to all that nobody is above the law.
“If you do wrong, you will go your own way.
“As far as I’m concerned, they are under investigation.
“Let’s see the outcome we would have.
“As far as I’m concerned, my government will not shield anybody who is corrupt and who is found wanting.
“From myself as governor and every other lieutenant, we are opened to scrutiny.”
The governor however regretted that some people were peddling rumours of cash transfers against his government.
Ortom said: “There is freedom of information bill and people are allowed to get information from these sources.
“The only thing is that there is no point telling lies and peddling falsehood against leaders.
“Like I heard somebody said we transferred $2.4 billion to an account.
“Where is the money?
“Money that I don’t have to do local government election or to pay salaries?
“If I have it, wont I pay them?
“So it is allowed.
“EFCC is an agency that is charged to investigate and where somebody is found culpable, you prosecute.
“So they are free to do their job in Benue State.
“I have given them free hand: ICPC, EFCC and even for me I am doing independent prosecution of those who are corrupt.”
Ortom stated that already, some indicted persons had agreed to return N355 million to the state government.
He said: “The Justice Kpojume Commission came out with a report that N107 billion should be retrieved from 52 persons, including the former governor, and I am leaving no stones unturned to ensure that we recover this money because we need it for the development of Benue State.
“Already, someone who was indicted has already offered to refund N355 million, which we gave the approval in Council on Wednesday.
“With that, we are not interested in prosecution.
“The exco exonerated him.
“Once he pays in the money, he has his clean bill.”