Gov Alia begins clampdown on whistleblowers

Benue State, Governor Hyacinth Alia

Gov Alia begins clampdown on whistleblowers


…Orders Arrest, Detention of Civil Rights Activist


The embattled Governor of Benue State, Hyacinth Alia who is facing a series of corruption allegations has begun a crackdown on whistleblowers and critics of his administration with the latest case being the arrest Tuesday night and detention of Mr. Uchenna Mojekwu, a civil rights activist and Secretary of the Global Integrity Crusade Network (GICN).

Mojekwu was arrested and detained in Makurdi over a petition written against Dr. Dennis Akura, the Special Adviser to the Governor Alia, on Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.

Read: Alia’s plan to launch a security Outfit, A waste of resources

The arrest of the GICN Secretary came barely two days after Governor Alia had publicly vowed that his government would descend violently on its critics. The governor was speaking at a function in Konshisha local government area of the state last Sunday.

Sources at the Benue State police command have revealed that the arrest and detention of Mojekwu is a way of silencing and arm twisting the group and other whistleblowers to desist from further unearthing the alleged corrupt activities of Governor Alia through his aides such as the LG Special Adviser, Dennis Akura.

Barring any last minute events, the Benue State Governor has concluded plans with the police to charge Mojekwu to court tomorrow and hurriedly obtain a judgment against him for the purpose of sending him to prison. The whistleblower will be arraigned in a magistrate court on charges that are not bailable making it compulsory for him to be detained.

Governor Alia is using the newly deployed Commissioner of Police in Benue State, Mr. Yabaneth Steve Hassan as his Man Friday in the clampdown on whistleblowers and critics of his government.

Earlier in the year, the Governor had ordered the arrest and detention of the Benue State Publicity Secretary of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mr. Bemgba Iortyom who was incarcerated for many days without being charged to court or being told what his offence was. Before that arrest, at least five other members of the main opposition in the state had been picked up by the police and detained on frivolous grounds.

Governor Alia has been accused of misappropriating about N66 billion of public funds in less than seven months in office. Out of the amount, N46 billion was said to be from the state government coffers while N20 billion was reported to have been embezzled from the monthly allocations of the 23 local governments of the state.

It would be recalled that in February 2024, the GICN submitted a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), detailing how the government of Alia, through his aide, Akura, allegedly authorized and withdrew over N20 billion from the Benue State local government accounts, attaching evidences of letters signed by different Council Chairmen and Directors of Administration.

The anti-corruption group also submitted a copy of the petition to the Department of State Services (DSS) and the House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions, inviting various agencies to investigate the allegation.

Further recall that the House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions, had on 27th February, 2024, summoned Dr. Dennis Akura to answer questions concerning the said missing N20 billion being part of Federal Allocations to the 23 Local Government Areas in Benue State, the invitation which was turned down by the governor’s aide.

While the EFCC reportedly transferred the petition to its Makurdi Zonal Office and invited the lawyer group for adoption of the petition; Dr. Akura, on the other hand, rather than turning himself over or allowing full investigations into the allegation, was directed by his principal Governor Alia to write a petition to the police authorities to arrest the petitioners.

Sources further confirmed that the arrest and detention of the GICN Secretary Mojekwu is a plot to abort the investigation that is about to start at the EFCC and other anti graft agencies.

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