As civil servants in Benue state grapple with the issue of non-payment of salaries, documents in possession of The Whistler shows that the state governor, Mr. Samuel Ortom, is alleged to be stealing about N2.2billion monthly.
The documents made available by the Benue Youth Integrity Group (BYIG) alleges that Governor Ortom had claimed that the state wage bill is N4.2 billion, while available bank records show N2.2 billion.
In two separate memos in the possession of this newspaper, signed by officials of the State Accountant General’s office, Kwagh Har Asen and Enenche Ogebe, to Zenith Bank Plc, Makurdi Branch, for payments of workers’ salaries in Benue state amounting to N2.2billion.
The memos with reference number S/TRY/531/1/59 dated December 6, 2016 addressed to the manager, Zenith Bank Plc with the title: Authorization For Payment Of July, 2016 Staff Salaries For Batch 1, amounted to One Billion, One Hundred & Eighty Eight Million, Seven Hundred & Fifty Seven Thousand, Eight Hundred &Fifty Six Niara & Two Kobo, (N1, 188, 757, 856, 02).
In yet another memo to the same bank but dated December 8, 2016 on the same subject but for Batch 2 of workers salaries, the amount was pegged at Four Hundred & Twenty Four Million, One Hundred &Fifty Six Thousand, One Hundred & Thirty Naira & Sixteen Kobo (N424, 156, 130, 16).
Curiously, each of the letters states: “The Tax element of N109, 729, 751, 13 (One Hundred & Nine Million Seven Hundred &Twenty Nine Thousand, Seven Hundred & Fifty One Niara & Thirteen Kobo) only is NOT TO BE TREATED.”
Similarly, the second memo also reads: “The Tax element of N30, 916, 470, 19 (Thirty Million, Nine Hundred & Sixteen Thousand, Four Hundred and Seventy Naira & Nineteen Kobo) only is NOT TO BE TREATED PLEASE.”
The state’s salary payroll summary which was made available to this newspaper shows that the gross salary stands at N1, 298, 487, 607, 15, while tax stands at N109, 229, 751, 13, union dues at N7, 954, 567, 25.
Others are National Housing Fund of N19, 918, 160, 59, which we gathered from sources was yet to be reimbursed to the appropriate authorities, cooperatives and others, N242, 115, 381, 53, yet another questionable item listed as others N871, 706, 74, payable deductions N270, 008, 109. 16.
The total deductions alone amounted to N380, 609, 567, 03.
In April 2016, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, (ICPC) indicted the Benue and Imo State Governments of having diverted N338 billion bailout funds.
The report which was signed by Mustapha Hussain stated that Benue state government received N12bn meant for the payment of salaries “but mysteriously paid over N70m into the account of the Office of the Deputy Governor.
“In Benue state, the total debt accrued from staff salaries and emoluments amounted to N12, 503, 439, 787. 48 as bailout fund and disbursed N10, 852, 536, 702.96 with a balance of N1, 650, 903, 084.52.”
Efforts to reach the spokesperson to the governor, Mr. Tahav Agerzua, on his mobile line were unsuccessful.