*APC: Probe of Akume, plot to frustrate his emergence as Nat’l chair
*PDP: His (Akume) wasteful era, bane of Suswam, Ortom’s govt’s
Two leading political parties in Benue State, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Wednesday engaged each other in what can best be described as a war of words over the state of affairs in the state.
The major crux of the discord follows the recent letter of complaint by Ortom’s government asking the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other offences Commission (ICPC) to investigate the Minister of Special Duties, George Akume over alleged gross financial impropriety to the tune of over N4,556,899,632.9 when he served as governor.
The alleged financial scandal, which ranges from misappropriation of public funds, approvals above limit, abuse of office and public trust also include the sale of N33,440,818 units of shares at the Benue Investment and Property Company (BIPC), also valued at billions of naira without recourse to due process among other issues.
While the APC believed the face-off is part of strategies of frustrate Akume’s emergence as National Chairman of the APC, the PDP said the eight-year tenure of the former governor was indeed a wasteful era which negatively affected both the Suswam and Ortom’s administrations respectively.
Addressing a news conference in Makurdi, factional chairman-elect of the APC, Comrade Austin Agada said: “The target of this campaign of calumny, we ultimately know is to lower Senator Dr George Akume who is highly celebrated by many Nigerians in the eyes of the public thereby, weakening his chances of emerging as the National Chairman of the APC, now that majority of APC members across all states of the federation are clamouring for his emergence to the position.”
He said the fraud allegation pinned against Senator Akume “is clearly an act of political witch-hunt”, which he noted will fail same way the same government had leveled N107 billion allegation against the Gabriel Suswam’s administration but later nullified same; and viewed the said probe as another mere diversionary tactics from main issues at stake.
But Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Bemgba Iortyom, in a swift response, insisted that the Minister must: “Answer to those cases of financial crimes so unearthed against him by the audit rather than resorting to sponsoring press conferences by a neophyte whose status is still unclear even within his party, the APC.
“Crying wolf about the audit report being a witch-hunt is totally immaterial as the due process of law requires him to prove his innocence before a competent authority when called upon to do so.”