BY HEMBADOON ORSAR, Makurdi
Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom has expressed happiness over the release of former Governor Gabriel Suswam whom he described as his friend, from the custody of the Department of State Security Service (DSS).
The governor also described the release as a ‘welcome development’ for the state and nation.
Suswam was on Sunday evening released by DSS on self-recognition after over 71 days in their custody. His release came on the heels of outcry by civil societies and several other groups who protested over his prolonged stay in the custody of the security operative without been charged to court. While in custody, Suswam sued the DSS claiming over N10 billion for ‘unlawful detention.’
Ortom while speaking with newsmen yesterday in Makurdi insisted that he has no quarrels with Suswam, adding that he never reported him to the DSS.
The governor said he respects Suswam as a friend and would not do anything to tarnish his image.
“I never reported Suswam to the DSS contrary to claims in some quarters. He is my friend and I respect him. Now that he is out, the reconciliation process will go on”, Ortom said.
“Let me reinstate my earlier decision during the 4th Benue stakeholders meeting to reconcile with my friend Suswam. I have no personal problem with him. Now that he is out, we will continue with our discussion on how best to move Benue forward”, he said.
It should be noted that relationship between the duo became sour after Ortom emerged as governor of the state without the support of Suswam.
On assumption of office, Ortom constituted a panel to probe Suswam government and it was discovered that Suswam alongside 51 others embezzled over N107 billion. Ortom vowed to recover the money from those indicted by the panel leading to verbal war between them.
However, at a stakeholders meeting in Government House, sometime ago, Ortom announced to the surprise of all that a reconciliation move has been initiated by some elders from Sankera axis of the state. But it was at that time, that Suswam was thrown inside DSS detention.