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EFCC Grills Two Benue Government Officials

The EFCC yesterday grilled two Benue State Government officials in connection with huge withdrawal of N23, 429, 938, 951.52 from the state accounts.

Those questioned are a Director of Finance and Accounts in the Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Gbaigyo Emmanuel, and a cashier, Andoor Festus.

The EFCC also discovered that another suspect, Agbo Amada, has been dismissed by the state government to “avoid making him available for interrogation.”But The Nation could not confirm this.

The list of the accounts where the withdrawals were made was released yesterday by the EFCC.

The accounts and the funds are as follows:

Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs—N792, 039,884.00 (Sterling Bank —0017836093)
Joint State and Local Account—N1, 367, 043, 651.52(Fidelity Bank—5030058730)
Benue State Government House— N1, 916, 635, 206.00( UBA-1017348051)
Benue State Bureau of Internal Service and Special Service—N11,827, 455, 250 (UBA—1007540119)
Benue State Bureau of Internal Service and Special Service—N5, 886, 237, 150( First Bank—2023788057)
Benue State Bureau of Internal Service and Special Service—N1, 640, 527, 540 (Zenith Bank—1010653167)
The state government during the week accused the EFCC of freezing its accounts. The action was roundly criticised by opposition parties, many groups and the Governors’ Forum.

On Thursday, the accounts were defrozen.

Alluding to the freezing of the account, another source in EFCC yesterday said: “The EFCC is not out to shut down the government in Benue State. We have been conducting investigation in the last two years. There is no political witch-hunt in any manner.

“All we did is to caution withdrawal from these accounts with ‘Place No Debit’ which does not last more than 72 hours.

“Despite the fact that the EFCC uncovered massive withdrawals from these accounts in tranches of N10million, top government officials have continued to divert funds paid into these accounts from the Federation Account.

“As an anti-graft agency, the EFCC has the obligation to check diversion of public funds and money laundering.

“We are continuing with investigation of these accounts. On Friday, a team of detectives grilled the Director of Finance and Accounts in the Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Gbaigyo Emmanuel and a cashier, Andoor Festus.

“We are looking for another official, Agbo Amada, who has been dismissed by the state government to avoid making him available for interrogation.”

Also yesterday, EFCC seized the passport of a former Director-General of the Department of State Security Service, Mr. Ita Ekpenyong, who is being investigated over funds related to the $2.1 billion arms scandal by the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA).

The anti-graft agency has restricted Ekpenyong’s movement to the country pending the completion of ongoing investigation.

For more than eight hours, detectives grilled Ekpenyong.

A top source in EFCC, who spoke in confidence, said: “Based on the depth of the ongoing investigation of the former DG of DSS, we have seized his passport in order to restrict his movement to the country in order to make our work easier.

“Since he is enjoying administrative bail, he has to be reporting to the EFCC for a while until we are done with the ongoing interrogation.

“On Friday, he continued with the writing of his statement which he could not conclude on Thursday.”

Asked what transpired between the detectives and Ekpenyong, the source quoted the former DG of DSS as saying: “I have nothing to hide.”

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