By Emma Njoku
Barely one week after he called for the imposition of a state of emergency in Benue State, over what he described as the state government’s show of incapability in handling security matters, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe Governor Samuel Ortom over the use of Paris Club refund allocation.
This is coming at a time Wike has awarded contracts for the reconstruction of two roads in Benue.
The Rivers State governor had, last week, called for the declaration of state of emergency in Benue State, following the killing of about 52 people in a market in Zaki Biam, Benue State. He had justified his call, saying the state government had shown ineptitude in tackling security problem.
Speaking to Daily Sun on the Paris Club refunds allocation, Wike said despite the amount of money disbursed to Benue, the state government had not done much to cater to the needs of the people, hence the need for EFCC investigation.
“The EFCC should look into the Paris Club refund allocation to Benue State because there is paucity of infrastructure in the state. The governor should be asked to account for the money and other allocations he has received in nearly two years in office,” he said.
He said Benue people are suffering “because they don’t have dividends of democracy.”
Wike said it was because of the concern for the suffering of the Benue people and respect as well as value he has for elder statesmen from the state that he has elected to reconstruct Makurdi-Naka-Adoka road and Aliade-Oju-Obarike-Ito-Otukpo road in Benue State.
According to him, the contracts would cost him N4 billion, revealing that the roads’ “bill of quantity” had already been issued.
“I sympathise with the suffering of Benue people. I value and respect the likes JS Tarka, Apar Aku, George Akume, Victor Malu and David Mark, all prominent indigenes of the state. That’s why I am financing the reconstruction of the roads. I think there is need for a probe of the finances of the state.”
Wike had, last week, said declaration of a state of emergency in Benue had become necessary because Governor Ortom, had shown “ineptitude and lack of capacity to handle the situation.”
According to him, “you can’t have a governor watching helplessly, as his people are being killed. What kind of governor is that? He has displayed sheer laziness and incapacity in the whole issue, and this is quite unfortunate.”
The Rivers governor said although governors were not fully in charge of security in states, they are supposed to have strategies, working with security agencies, on how to combat crime.
“No excuse is acceptable for the high number of deaths in Benue,” he said
He said Benue had been in the news over wanton killings, which showed that the government had not done much in the area of security.
Comparing Benue and his state, Wike said: “We didn’t even have the kind of insecurity and killings that we are witnessing in Benue today when some of these mischievous opposition in Abuja were calling for state of emergency in Rivers, but now they have suddenly lost their voices. You can see their level of hypocrisy and mischief? I am calling for an urgent imposition of state of emergency in Benue, because there is a clear incapacity of the governor there to act decisively to stem the killings and tackle the problem.”
Justifying his call, Wike said: “When Rivers had security challenges, Ortom was among All Progressives Congress (APC) governors, who plotted for the declaration of state of emergency in the state.
“When the problem of insecurity started here in Rivers, instead of joining hands to proffer solutions, they politicised it. Unless all those at the forefront of the plot against the state repent, this insecurity will visit them one after another.”
Replying Wike last week, Governor Ortom said his Rivers counterpart should ask for a state of emergency in his state first, before talking about Benue.
Ortom, in an interview with newsmen, said: “If Wike wants state of emergency, he should first ask for it in Rivers. Leaders should be careful what they say.
“I’m not his rival. His statements are unfortunate, but I will not join issues with him. I leave Wike to his conscience.”
Ortom said he never had any issues with Wike and recalled that the first time the Rivers governor took a swipe at him was when he was nominated by his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), to go for campaign in Rivers.
Governor Ortom, who enjoined his Rivers counterpart not to rejoice at his present predicament, said: “I pray God will help Wike succeed as a leader. I leave him to his conscience.”