Information reaching Newsclick.com has it that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has frozen the bank accounts of the Akwa Ibom and Benue state governments.
A top official of the Akwa Ibom state government confirmed the development to newsmen on Wednesday.
The source said Udom Emmanuel, the governor, and accountant-general of the state were shocked by the development.
The report of the freezing of Akwa Ibom government accounts happened 24 hours after the commission blocked those of Benue government.
Recall that a former governor of the state and a serving senator, Godswill Akpabio is currently decamping to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) at a special rally organized for him in the state.
Akpabio had earlier tendered his resignation as the Minority Leader of the Senate.
Meanwhile, the Benue State authorities also confirmed that the funds meant to pay the salaries of workers and pensioners in state have also been frozen by the EFCC.
“Accounts of the Benue State Government have been frozen by EFCC,” Terver Akase, a spokesperson for Governor Samuel Ortom, said in a statement.
“It is part of the political witch-hunt against Governor Samuel Ortom. The action of EFCC is already having negative impact on the running of government in Benue State. It is a move that will affect salaries, pensions and other sundry payments,” Akase said.
His confirmation came a day after the Vanguard reported that at least three bank accounts which the state held with GTBank, First Bank and Fidelity Bank had been blocked by the anti-graft office as part of a corruption probe.
Several reports last week said the EFCC was investigating Ortom for up to N22 billion in security funds allegedly feared plundered under his supervision.
The governor has denied the allegations, saying they were amongst a desperate plot to oust him as governor. He said the plot was bu to his recent defection from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.
Ortom is also facing a battle with some APC lawmakers in the state who are scheming to remove him from office. Initial attempts by eight lawmakers to serve the governor a notice of impeachment were rebuffed by his loyalists and condemned across the country, including by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Akase emphasised the political undertone of the EFCC’s action in his statement Wednesday, warning the agency not to allow itself be used by political players.
“The question we are asking is; why did EFCC not investigate the Governor’s security votes when he was still a member of APC? Why start the investigation now?
“EFCC should not allow itself to be used as an attack dog unleashed against perceived political opponents’” Akase said.
The reported freezing comes days after the APC accused Mr Ortom of squandering security votes and politicising the deaths of his state residents. Mr Ortom strongly denied the allegations.
“Let the Federal Government tell us how much it has spent on prosecuting the fight against Boko Haram and how much it spent on the other operations such as Python Dance, Crocodile Smile and Whirl Stroke.
“Benue has suffered heavy attacks by Fulani herdsmen since the beginning of the year. Within the period, the State Government has spent a lot to legitimately support security agencies to protect the people of the state. Governor Ortom has not diverted funds. He runs a transparent administration.
“We welcome the investigation, but as I said earlier, it should start from the presidency and go across the 36 states. Benue should not be singled out for victimisation, intimidation and harassment as the federal government with its agencies is currently doing,” Akase said.
However, efforts to reach the spokesperson of the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren for comments was unsuccessful as at the time of filing this report.