- Governor Samuel Ortom has said he is not against local government autonomy
- The governor said he does not interfere with local government funds in his state
- He also noted there is no reason to oppose any move to grant full autonomy to the councils
Benue state governor, Samuel Ortom, has stated that he is not against local government autonomy as being reported in a section of the media.
The governor made the clarification on Sunday, June 2, via a statement sent to Legit.ng by his chief press secretary, Terver Akase.
The statement noted that Governor Ortom is one of the governors who supported constitutional amendment granting local governments autonomy.
Recently, the governor, while interacting with journalists in Makurdi, frowned at the statement credited to Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, which tended to describe state governors as fraudsters who divert local government funds for personal use.
Governor Ortom had taken exception to such sweeping incriminating comments by NFIU which sought to indict all governors, and he demanded an apology.
“I have never touched one kobo of local government funds so it’s an insult for NFIU to refer to all governors as corrupts. So they have to apologise to me," he emphasized.
According to the statement, “it should be noted that Benue state under Governor Ortom is already practising local government autonomy. Council chairmen in the state are directly responsible for the payment of workers' salaries and general running of administration in their areas.
“The decision to allow local governments to manage their affairs is a key element of Governor Ortom's policy on transparency and accountability.
“In spite of limited resources, Governor Ortom has made genuine efforts to deepen democracy at the local government level by conducting elections to allow Benue people to choose their representatives at the third tier of government.
“The governor does not interfere with local government funds and therefore has no reason to oppose any move to grant full autonomy to the councils.
“Governor Ortom will however not allow any agency of the government to go out of its constitutional mandate to create the impression that he tampers with council funds.”
Meanwhile, a Makurdi high court presided over by Justice Augustine Ityoyiman will on Thursday, July 11 rule on the application brought before it by counsel to the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole in the libelous suit instituted against him by Governor Ortom.
Governor Ortom had dragged the APC national chairman to court over a press conference in which Oshiomhole is said to have made libelous statements against the Benue governor.
When the case came up Friday, June 1, counsel to Ortom, Samuel Irabor, who appeared in court with two witnesses, told the court that he was ready to go on, but that he was served with a motion on notice on Thursday, May 31 by the counsel to the APC national chairman, which he has responded to.
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