Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has accused the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of pandering to the whims of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), saying the anti-graft body has turned itself into a department of the party.
The outspoken governor made this known while swearing-in nine new commissioners in the state capital, Makurdi on Tuesday.
Ortom said that in the last eight months, officials of his administration had been subjected to several interrogations by EFCC over N120 million expended on the burial of the former Tor Tiv and Chairman of the state’s Traditional Council, the late Akawe Torkula, and resettlement of his family two years ago.
He lamented that the EFCC had continued to overlook APC politicians in its so-called anti-corruption war.
According to him, “EFCC has become a department in the All Progressives Congress, APC, that is used to harass and intimidate perceived political enemies.
“It is unfortunate that if you are a member of APC, you are a saint, but the moment you leave the party, they demonise you and you are hunted.
“I am a strong advocate of the fight against corruption, but it has to be holistic and total and not selective.”
Also, Ortom accused the Federal Government through the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) of preventing a United Nations (UN) delegation on a fact-finding mission to the state from landing at the Makurdi Airport.
He said in denying the UN delegation landing permit at the airport, the Federal Government was trying to prevent the true picture of what transpired in Benue from being known to the world.
Ortom said, “They did not want the delegation to come to Benue to get firsthand information of the dehumanising situation and injustice our people are facing. It is not fair.
“I will not accept it and I will not keep quiet. If you want me to keep quiet, give me justice.
“It is only a fool that will die 20 times before his actual death and you know that I am not a fool. I am ready to die once, as far as I get justice for my people.”
But the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), which manages the airport, swiftly denied the allegation that it prevented the UN delegation from landing.
In a statement by its Director of Public Relations, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, NAF said there was a NOTAM (Notice To All Airmen) to the effect that runway 0523 was closed to all private aircraft due to ongoing repairs at the airport.
He disclosed that the notice had been in effect since August 22 and no private aircraft would be allowed to operate until the repairs were completed.
“Military aircraft make use of the airport, but we cannot give a clearance to a private/civil aircraft to land there,” Daramola said.