By Chimezie Godfrey
A group, Tiv Youth Advancement Vanguard (TYAV), has accused Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom of plotting to imprison his predecessor, Sen. Gabriel Suswam over his ambition to retain the structure of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state ahead of 2023 general elections.
The group in a statement by its Convener, Barr. Tyohemba Denen expressed worry that the governor’s vindictive posture was not in the interest of the state, but his personal ambition that could deprive the Benue North East senatorial zone of representation in the Senate.
The group alleged that the governor was lobbying graft agencies to ensure that Suswam goes to prison over alleged cases of corruption, while he served as governor for 8 years.
Recall that Governor Ortom was denied the PDP primary ticket for the 2015 general election, defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and won the election but returned to the PDP before the end of his first term in office.
It alleged further that though the governor toned down his vendetta against Suwam to curry support for his second term bid, he is now using cronies to stoke up fire for cases of corruption he instigated against him.
“Governor Samuel Ortom stretched his vendetta against Suswam by setting up a powerful judicial panel of enquiry led by Justice Elizabeth kpojime to investigate the tenure of Suswam who was Governor between May 29th, 2007 – May 29th, 2015. The panel indicted Suswam to have stolen N107 billion of Benue monies.
“Governor Ortom issued a white paper and submitted the findings of the judicial panel to all anti-graft agencies like EFCC, ICPC and all security agencies to make sure Suswam is prosecuted and thrown in prison.
“This led to the confiscation of all properties belonging to Suswam by the EFCC and ICPC. If Suswam is moving from one court to the other today, it is the handiwork of no other person but Governor Samuel Ortom in his pursuit of vendetta against him.
“Thirdly, after the failed amnesty program, Governor Ortom sponsored petitions to DSS suggesting that Sen. Suswam has links with the most wanted militia in Benue state, Mr. Terwase Akwasa Alias GANA. Sen. Suswam was arrested and detained for over 3months without Trial,” the group said.
According to the group, in another witch-hunt, Suswam was arrested for gun-running and is facing trial for this trump up allegation. This too was allegedly done by Gov. Ortom’s agents.
“In the build up to 2023 general elections, Governor Ortom sees Suswam as the biggest threat to his desire to foist his gubernatorial candidate on the PDP and also secure a senatorial ticket on the platform of the same party.
“The relationship that has existed between Ortom and Suswam ever since he (Ortom) returned to PDP has been that of deep suspicion. Ortom sees himself as the biggest beneficiary of the incarceration on Sen. Suswam as he will take over the structures of the PDP in the state and determine who gets what in the party as can be seen in the ongoing selection process of the Chairmanship candidates of the PDP in Benue state,” the group added.