The immediate past Governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, yesterday denied claims that he laid “landmines” for his successor, Samuel Ortom by allegedly leaving behind a debt of N140 billion.
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Suswam, who denied bequeathing such a huge amount of debt to Governor Ortom, said a panel set up by the Benue State Government discovered that the former administration borrowed only N18 billion from issuance of bonds.
The ex-governor, who is currently standing trial before a Federal High Court in Abuja for alleged money laundering to the tune of about N3.1 billion belonging to the state and breach of trust, made the clarifications in a statement issued by his Special Assistant, Hon Terkaa Mamwoo.
The statement said: “The attention of His Excellency, Rt. Hon Gabriel Suswam, former Governor of Benue State, has been drawn to a report in the media on Tuesday which quoted his successor in office, the Executive Governor of Benue State, Dr. Samuel Ortom, as accusing him of deliberately creating problems for his administration when he was about to leave government in 2015.
“According to the report, Governor Ortom, who spoke in Makurdi on Monday, particularly blamed his predecessor for causing the problems currently confronting his administration, by allegedly looting the state’s treasury.
“The former Governor wishes to state emphatically that his administration did not deliberately lay any landmines for the succeeding administration since his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had a candidate who was hoping to take over from his administration.
“Therefore, he couldn’t have deliberately created hurdles on the way to make the succeeding administration fail”.
The statement denied that Suswam borrowed N140 billion during his eight years tenure as governor of the middle-belt state, stressing that the figure only exists in the imagination of the incumbent governor, who has continued to use the “non-existent figure as a cover up for his ineptitude and administration’s lack-lustre performance”.
It further said “The report of the probe panel instituted by the Ortom administration even acknowledged that the Suswam administration borrowed only N18 billion from issuance of bonds, so where did Governor Ortom get the figure of N140 billion he has been peddling about?
“It is instructive to state that the Suswam administration did not divert N107 billion as claimed by the probe panel report, as the administration applied the funds accruing to the state on provision of infrastructure”.