By Tersee Akaar, Makurdi
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has joined forces with the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) to recover N107 billion looted from Benue State treasury by 52 individuals and 10 corporate organisations.
The amount was said to have been carted away by officials that served in the last administration but that the anti-graft agency has arrested nine persons in connection with the fraud.
The nine persons who had been indicted by the Justice Elizabeth Kpojime Commission of Inquiry were arrested and detained at the State Police headquarters, Makurdi before being taken to the force headquarters Abuja for further investigation and subsequent prosecution.
Those arrested are the former Special Adviser to the former Governor on Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Prince Solomon Wombo, former permanent secretary of the Bureau, Mr Asen Sambe, and the accountant-general during their time, Mr. Isaiah Ipevnor.
Others are Janet Aluga, Moses Detso, Peter Ochoga, James Gera, Aorga Emmanuel and former legal adviser of the Benue Investment and Property Company, BIPC, Mr John Tyokegh.
The state’s Commissioner of Police, Mr Bashir Makama, who confirmed the arrests explained that they were effected by the Police from the force headquarters in Abuja.
Makama said Wombo reported himself to the police at the force headquarters in Abuja and is currently being detained there.
One of those indicted, Mr Richard Gbande, escaped when Police went to arrest him but that his two cars have been impounded men of the force who are believed to be on his trail.
He revealed that large amounts of money and ammunition were recovered from the houses of some of those arrested.
Reacting to the development, the state’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Barrister Michael Gusa, who also confirmed the arrests stated that the current administration would do everything legally possible to recover the looted funds.
He assured the people of the state that after the recovery of the money, it would be channelled towards the development of the state as well as the clearing of all salaries and other entitlements owed workers and pensioners.