Benue State governor Hyacinth Alia has asked those who are not “witches” not to be scared of any witch hunt.
He responded yesterday to statements by the immediate past governor Samuel Ortom’s aide, Terver Akase and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s spokesperson Bemgba Iortyom. They had accused Alia of witch-hunting Ortom and the opposition party.
Alia through his chief press secretary, Tersoo Kula, the governor said, “We have read with dismay, contradictory statements from Akase, a media aide to the former Governor Ortom and also from the State PDP publicity secretary, Iortyom, where both accused the Rev. Fr. Alia’s administration of harassing and witch-hunting his predecessor.
“If we can recall, during the June 22nd, 2023 inauguration of the Assets Recovery Committee by Rev. Fr. Alia, he charged the committee not to witch hunt anyone, but to stop at nothing to legitimately recover all lands, vehicles, houses, furniture and other machines wrongly taken away, sold and kept in the wrong hands,” he said.
The CPS Kula also explained that Ortom was not and has never been the target, as his aide and the spokesperson of PDP would want the unsuspecting mass of Benue people to falsely believe in a bid to curry undue public sympathy.
“The discovery and recovery of numerous vehicles at a private building within the state capital by the committee is an indication that they have truly swung into action,” he added.
Akase said when the present governor set up the Assets Recovery Committee and they made Ortom a target, he approached the court and the matter is still in court.
He said, “Ortom is not the first former Governor to vacate office with the official vehicles allocated to him. His predecessors, former judicial officers, legislators such as the chief of staff to the present governor, Paul Biam, the Assets Recovery Committee chairman, Hinga Biem and other members of the committee who served in government at different times all left with the official vehicles given to them.”
While reminding Ortom that a committee of this nature is not alien to Benue people, Kula called on all patriotic Benue citizens to commend the committee for daring to carry out the assignment given to them without fear or favour and operating strictly in line and within the remit of their terms of reference.
“Ortom had set up and supervised similar committees, shortly after he was sworn into office in 2015. Government assets were allegedly recovered from certain individuals at the time, including his predecessor, Sen. Gabriel Suswam. Should we now say the Ortom led administration was equally on a mission to harass or witch-hunt his predecessor?
“Sadly, to desperately defend callousness, as Akase in his official statement described the building where the vehicles were recovered as ‘a commercial automobile workshop operated by London Lines Transport Ltd,’ while PDP publicity secretary on the other hand, in his official statement, said the place is ‘a private automobile workshop owned by Gov. Ortom’s business concern, Oracle Business Ltd.’ I truly sympathize with them here, because this is a clear case of double-speak and a feeble depiction of desperation to defend the indefensible,” he said.