Samuel Ortom Gov splashes N558.7m on luxury vehicles for aides, LG Chairmen

He also acquired 43 new Toyota Corolla cars at the cost of N318.2 million, with each delivered at the cost of N7.4 million.

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The Governor of Benue state, Samuel Ortom, has reportedly splashed N558.7 million on luxury vehicles for his aides and local government chairmen, amid financial constraint in the state.

According to SaharaReporters, the Governor bought 13 new Toyota Land Cruiser Prado SUVs for commissioners in the state at N18.5million each.

He also acquired 43 new Toyota Corolla cars at the cost of N318.2 million, with each delivered at the cost of N7.4 million.

The cars were said to have distributed to his 20 special advisers while the remaining 23 went to local government chairmen in the state.

It was also alleged that the cars were sold to the state government at ridiculous prices compared to normal normal prices on the market.

Findings show that a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, 2015 model can goes for N11 million, as against the N18.5mllion.

A popular auto dealer, Lanre Shittu Motors, offers the same vehicle for N11 million, the report said.

Also, investigations show that a new Toyota Corolla 2015 model is sold for N5 million as against the N7.4 million the Governor paid for each of the 43 vehicles.

However, Ortom's move violates the provisions of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) Act.

The RMAFC Act prescribes the remuneration and other perks payable to public officials in Nigeria.

Under the law, a state commissioner with an annual basic salary of N1.3 million is entitled to a vehicle loan of N5.3 million, representing 400 percent of the basic income, repayable before the expiration of his or her tenure.

On the other hand, a special adviser to a governor with an annual basic salary of N1.2 million is only entitled to an optional vehicle loan of N5 million, representing 400 percent of the basic salary, to be repaid before the end of tenure.

A local government chairman, under the same law, with an annual basic salary of N908, 312 is entitled to a vehicle loan of N3, 633, 248, representing 400 percent of the annual pay and repayable before the end of tenure.

“I am not aware the tender for the purchase of the vehicles were ever advertised as required by the procurement law", a Benue Government official told Premium Times anonymously.

Confirming the purchase, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Tahav Agerzua, said the decision to buy the vehicles was taken by the state executive council and accordingly made public. He refused to discuss the cost of the vehicles, saying only the Finance Commissioner, David Olofu, could provide such information.

Reacting to the purchase, Olofu defended the state government's move, saying the money for the vehicles would be deducted from the beneficiaries' salaries.

He said, '" am preparing a memo to the council to give approval for us to domesticate what we have at the Federal level.

“But in the interim, we have what we call Store Regulation and the Procurement Guideline. That is what we follow here. But in addition to that, for you to make any such procurement, it has to go through the State Executive Council.

“It’s SEC that considers and approves all such procurement and all the steps contained in both the Store Regulation and Procurement Guidelines were followed.

“I am preparing a memo to the council to give approval for us to domesticate what we have at the Federal level.

“But in the interim, we have what we call Store Regulation and the Procurement Guideline. That is what we follow here. But in addition to that, for you to make any such procurement, it has to go through the State Executive Council.

“It’s SEC that considers and approves all such procurement and all the steps contained in both the Store Regulation and Procurement Guidelines were followed.

“The vehicles are not free because we are going to deduct the funds from the salaries of the beneficiaries. It is not as if the government bought vehicles and dashed the commissioners.

“We will continue to do our best in salvaging the state. We came at the most difficult time, but we will continue to do our best.”