How we recovered N4.5 billion diverted bonds, by Ortom
Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom at the weekend disclosed that his government had recovered the controversial N4.5 billion bonds allegedly diverted by his predecessor, Gabriel Suswam.
Ortom, who made the disclosure to journalists on the refund of the bonds, said that the transaction between the bank and his predecessor was shrouded in falsehood and lies.
He stated that there was no state executive council meeting held but that the administration of his predecessor generated minutes of meeting to enable it procure an overdraft of N4.5 billion which he used to service the bonds, noting that all documents used to get the overdraft were forged.
While Ortom accused his predecessor of collecting the N4.5 billion bonds meant for specific projects and diverted the fund to his personal use, Suswam had exonerated himself of any complicity in the said bonds.
The erstwhile governor had stated that he never received such bond from the United Bank for Africa (UBA) and could not have diverted the fund not released to him.
Ortom told journalists that the bank had planned to use the fund to service the overdraft of N4.5 billion earlier obtained by his predecessor.
He stated: “The whole process was anchored on falsehood and lies, bonds are meant for specific projects and in this case, they were meant for 13 projects, including Daudu/Gbajimba road, Oshigbudu to Obagaji road, Tarka/Honor, Zakibiam/Afia, Oju Obusa Utonkon road, water projects in Otukpo and Katsina-Ala. Altogether about 13 projects.
“And when this money came, instead of channelling this money to the specific projects that this bond was approved for, it was rather used for serving overdraft of N4.5 billion.
That was why we have issues. So, we engaged a consultant who approached SEC and wrote a petition and SEC did an investigation and decided that this money should go back to the original use.
“That is what had been accredited to our account. So, we can go ahead and complete these projects that originally this bond was collected for. Now, the issue of overdraft and those documents that were written which were used to access the overdraft were forged by the past administration.
“There was no executive meeting held but minutes were generated. Of course, not just minutes but extracts. It was packaged and all those documents written to the bank on this matter were not in the file and all the reference numbers were forged. So, this is where we have case.”
The governor, who stated that his administration had agreed to pay back the overdraft procured by the last administration, added: “We do not have the resources to talk of paying the overdraft within one month or 60 days as the case may be, so, we have to restructure.
“And we have agreed with the bank that we will restructure the overdraft to a period of four years which is about N136 million a month.”