Governor Hyacinth Alia of Benue State has accused his predecessor, Samuel Ortom, of operating 600 accounts and only declaring 25 in his handover notes.
Commissioner for Finance and Budget Planning, Michael Oglegba, made the accusation during a visit by State Correspondents’ Chapel members of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) to his office on Tuesday in Makurdi, the state capital,
The finance commissioner said the shocking discovery was the reason Governor Hyacinth Alia froze all government accounts upon assumption of office on May 29
He said the governor was shown only 25 accounts when he took over office, but information at the Nigerian Inter-Bank System, however, showed that the state had over 600 accounts.
He said: “When we came in, we asked for the accounts and bank statements, and we were presented with about 25 bank accounts. A casual look at the Nigerian Inter-Bank System showed that the Benue Government had more than 600 accounts.
“So the Governor needed to freeze those accounts to know exactly what was happening.”
Speaking on the state debts profile, Oglegba insisted that the Alia government inherited over N359 billion from the Ortom administration, which included that of the Local Government Arrears.
He said, “The debts owed by the state itself were in excess of N200bn. This includes local and foreign debts. However, the LGAs also have their own debts, unpaid salaries, pensions, gratuities and local contractors that made up the other N150bn.
“So the Alia administration has no reason to lie about the state debts. We will be doing ourselves a great disservice if we say we own monies that we do not own. When we need loans, for example, who will give us?”