*As Secret Arraignment of Premium times Journalist Attract Protest*
Benue state governor, Samuel Ortom, on Wednesday had criticized the continued persecution by the economic and financial crime commission over its latest demands among several others, requesting the state to provide minutes of its security meetings.
Ortom who spoke through his chief press secretary, Trever Akase, claimed that the commission had continued to ground the state government with invitations of government official to EFCC’s office
The anti-graft agency had a few weeks ago disclosed that it was investigating the state government’s expenditure of N22bn.
Few days after, the governor through his Chief Press Secretary said that the state accounts had been frozen by the anti-graft agency.
He was reported as saying then, “Yes, it is true that accounts of the Benue State Government have been frozen by the EFCC. It is part of the political witch-hunt against Governor Samuel Ortom. The action of the EFCC is already having a negative impact on the running of government in Benue State. It is a move that will affect salaries, pensions and other sundry payments.
“The question we are asking is: why did EFCC not investigate the governor’s security votes when he was still a member of the APC? Why start the investigation now?
“EFCC should not allow itself to be used as an attack dog unleashed against perceived political opponents. Let the Federal Government tell us how much it has spent on prosecuting the fight against Boko Haram and how much it spent on other operations such as Python Dance, Crocodile Smile and Whirl Stroke.”
Speaking on the new development, the governor said, “EFCC is still victimizing the state because what happens now is that every day, the commission invites not fewer than seven government officials to Abuja. Government activities have been grounded. The victimization has reached a ridiculous level now as the commission is demanding minutes of the Security Council meetings.
Meanwhile, in what looks more like secret Arraignments, following the refusal of Premium Time’s reporter, Samuel Ogundipe disclosing his source of the report to the police.
Urban express news online gathered on Wednesday that the police authorities secretly arraigned him at a magistrate court Abuja, in other to further permanent him in its custody
Ogundipe, who was arrested on Tuesday by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad over the publication of the report of a police investigation into the invasion of the National Assembly by the Department of State Services, was ordered to remain in custody till August 20.
The police reportedly accused him of theft and criminal trespass and violating Sections 352, 288 and 319 of the Penal Code.
The Premium Times’ Editor-in-Chief, Musikilu Mojeed, stated that the force arraigned the journalist without legal representation.
The whole developments have elicited reaction turning into protest coming from a civil coalition, #OurMumuDonDo Movement, where it demanded among other things the immediate release of Ogundipe by the police.
The group said its members would storm the police headquarters in Abuja on Thursday to demand the release of the reporter.
“We would like to state categorically that we will not hesitate to mobilise Nigerians of conscience to the headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force in Abuja, on August 16, 2018, if, by the end of today, August 15, 2018, Mr Samuel Ogundipe of Premium Times is not released unconditionally,” the coalition said.
The movement led by a popular artiste, Charly Boy, knocked the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, for allegedly flouting the law of the land by illegally detaining the journalist.
“This arrest is an open affront on Chapter IV, S. 39 (1) of CFRN 1999 as amended, which guarantees the freedom of expression of Nigerian citizens and the freedom of the press in Nigeria,” the group said in a statement on Wednesday.