George Akume, the senator currently representing Benue North-West at the National Assembly, paid N4million each to some members of the Benue State House of Assembly for them to impeach Samuel Ortom, Governor of the state, on July 30, SaharaReporters has been told.
It would be recalled that on July 30, eight members of the assembly, all belonging to the All Progressives Congress (APC), had served an impeachment notice on the Governor, and took over the chambers of the House without the mace and the clerk, protected by heavily-armed policemen and operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS), who prevented the 22 other members, all belonging to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), from entering the chambers.
That was five days after Ortom formalised his defection from the APC to PDP, despite the best efforts of Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of the ruling party, to prevent him from following through on an initial declaration to leave the party.
A lawmaker who received Akume’s N4million but asked not to be named, told SaharaReporters: “it was put in a bag for us and those of us who collected it were asked to put down our signature in order to impeach the Governor. Some of us were among the eight and some among the 22 who did not participate.”
Also, an intended beneficiary — Mrs. Ngohemba Agaigbe, who represents Gboko East State Constituency and was in APC until her defection to the PDP on August 8 — said she rejected the money initially and is now being issued death threats both by Akume (on Tuesday) and by people claiming affinity with him.
“One day, after I closed and I was about to go home, my driver told me that they came and put a bag in my boot. I asked what it was and when we opened it, it was money: N4 million,” Agaigbe told SaharaReporters.
“I asked what the money was for, when they started collecting signatures, and they said it was for the impeachment of the Governor. I told them I didn’t want it because I did not do any job and I could not be involved in that.
“Initially I told them to come and collect their money but they refused.”
After much insistence and because the story had become public, Agaigbe was present in the house of APC chieftain, Chief Silas Macikpa, at High-Level in Makurdi, to return the money. Barrister Aga Tyotom (pictured with the grey suit), who is Akume’s closest aide, received the money on behalf of Akume.
Also present at the meeting was Elder Peter Ishoilbo, who served as a witness for the Akume group, and APC chieftain, Elder Clement Ibya, President of the Mbatierev Development Association and an uncle of Agaigbe.
“He (Akume) called me and said, ‘don’t talk about it again’. He warned me. I am scared,” she continued.
“I cannot leave my house, and even my family is being threatened. I keep receiving different types of calls saying they would kill me if I don’t stop talking about it.”
SaharaReporters contacted two other members of the Benue State House of Assembly who received the sum but they declined to speak on the matter for fear that Akume could damage their 2019 ambitions by virtue of the power he wields in the state, and for fear of their lives.
SaharaReporters contacted Akume for his response to the allegations, however he neither answered several calls to his personal telephone line nor replied the text message to the same line.