The Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Abdulaziz Yari, on Wednesday, said it was unconstitutional for the EFCC to freeze the account of any state government.

Yari,  who is also the Zamfara State Governor, said this in an interview with State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He was reacting to the decision of the EFCC to freeze the accounts of the Benue State Government.

The governor said it was unfair to hinder a state like Benue that is facing security challenges from getting access to money.

He said although he was not privy to the reason behind the anti-graft body’s position, the decision was wrong.

The governor expressed the belief that the Federal Government would take a position on it, the same way it quickly addressed the invasion of the National Assembly by security agents.

Yari said, “The freezing of accounts of any state government, whether Benue or anywhere, is unconstitutional and is not right. That is shutting down the government.

“The government must spend, most especially Benue that is facing insecurity challenges.”

The NGF chairman said he did not know why the EFCC froze the accounts of the Benue State government but vowed that if it was discovered that the commission acted illegally, the leadership would be disciplined like that of the Department of State Services.

Yari added, “Well, we don’t know why the EFCC took the action. But if indeed EFCC did so, from my point of view, it is wrong.

“This government will not sit down and oversee unlawful operation from security agencies. From what happened yesterday, (Daura’s sacking), everyone can understand that this government is following due process and the laws of Nigeria.

“For one to just send security agencies to shut down the National Assembly, and the action that followed, that is what gave credit to this government by the local and international communities.

“A similar thing had happened in 2011 and 2014 respectively, but nothing was done about it. This time round, the government said enough is enough.

“The government of Muhammadu Buhari is following due process and will never oversee an unlawful activity by any security agency. So in the case of Benue, I believe something must be done.”

The Benue State Government has also accused the commission of freezing five bank accounts.

The action was a sequel to a report by the EFCC accusing the governor of diverting N22bn from the state’s accounts between 2015 and 2018.

The Benue State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mike Gusa, when contacted on the phone, confirmed the freezing of the state accounts but said the state government had gone ahead to challenge the case in court.

“Yes, I am aware of the development but right now I am in Abuja but let me tell you that we have gone to court to challenge it.”

In a statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to Benue State Governor, Mr Terver Akase, the government confirmed the freezing of the accounts, describing the action as a political witch-hunt.

He said, “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 the EFCC not investigate the governor’s security votes when he was still a member of the APC? Why start the investigation now?

The Punch

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