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Alia denies plan to shut Ortom’s companies in Benue

A group known as ‘Defenders of Democracy’ has raised the alarm about plans by the administration of Rev Fr Hyacinth Alia of Benue State to cripple the investment of his predecessor, Samuel Ortom, in the state.

The President of the group, Amos Uchiv, in a statement issued and made available to journalists in Makurdi on Sunday, said the plan involves raiding and shutting down all companies under Oracle Business Limited by raising spurious allegations.

Oracle enterprise was founded by the former governor.

Uchiv alleged that the Alia government was planning to use security men to accompany the people to forcefully raid Oracle Businesses and shut down the companies.

He said, “The reason is that they have taken Chief Ortom to the EFCC and ICPC by writing several petitions against him on frivolous and baseless issues, so, the last option is to seal his companies and render him ineffective.

“The government targets to not just shut down the Oracle Businesses but also take away vehicles parked within the company premises and any other valuables they may find.”

But the Technical Adviser to Governor Alia on Media Publicity and Strategic Communication, Solomon Iorpev, denied the allegation, saying crippling businesses contrasted with Alia’s push to encourage small-scale enterprises.

He said, “If they say the governor is trying to cripple the business of the ex-governor let them bring evidence and documents because the government doesn’t work with declaration but papers.

“They are only throwing stones from every angle there’s no truth. The governor is trying to encourage small-scale enterprises to spring up and existing ones to thrive to boost the economy of the state.

“Why will it want to cripple another business that is already adding value to the economy.

“But if peradventure the governor discovers that there were misappropriation of funds and discrepancies in the cause of governance he can call for an inquiry. The governor doesn’t go after personal things, he cares about the administration of the state.

“If you are a past governor or past administration and you misappropriated funds, the governor will definitely ask you where those funds are because we must hold everyone accountable; the country is even asking for accountability.

“If for instance the former governor is using part of his business to siphon money from government to that area (his business) and money was traced to those accounts, of course, we will chase it to those accounts.”

The media aide to the former governor, Terver Akase said that the harassment and intimidation of Ortom by the present administration tilted towards the group’s claim.

Akase, who spoke to our correspondent on Sunday, said, “It is difficult to dismiss the story making the rounds that the government plans to descend on the Oracle Business Ltd.

“This is because since the new administration came on board, it has made Chief Ortom a target of vilification and has put him on media trial, leveling all manner of accusations against him.

“Even if for nothing else, those investments have given hundreds of jobs to Benue people and are doing even more. Benue State is a lawful society, and those in power ought to allow the rule of law and due process to prevail.

“Chief Ortom has often said that he has nothing to hide because the records of his stewardship in government, as well as his private investments are open for all to see.

“It is public notice that Oracle Business Ltd accessed loans from the Central Bank of Nigeria, Bank of Industry, the Nigerian Export-Import Bank and other financial institutions to expand its subsidiaries.

“His Excellency Ortom has repeatedly challenged the present government and anyone else who alleges that he diverted government funds to step forward with the evidence.

“Embarking on a vendetta mission to bring the former Governor down for political purposes is unacceptable.”

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