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Ortom Drags Benue Govt To Court Over Asset Recovery Moves

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The immediate-past governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, and his deputy, Benson Abounu, have dragged the Benue State Government to court to restrain it from recovering assets from them.

Recall that Governor Hyacinth Alia had last week set up a committee to recover all state assets allegedly taken away by Ortom and other officials who served during his administration.

Alia, a clergyman, raised the alarm about the alleged massive looting at the Government House, saying Ortom went away with all official cars, leaving nothing for his successor.

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He also stated that he inherited an empty treasury and a huge debt profile of N187.5bn, in addition to accumulated months of unpaid salaries and entitlements of civil servants and pensioners in the state.

But in a suit marked MHC/199/2023, Ortom and Abounu’s lawyer, Douglas Pepe (SAN), prayed to the court to stop the present administration from recovering assets with them.

Listed as respondents in the suit are the Benue State Governor, the asset recovery committee, and its chairman, Hingah Biem.

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The plaintiffs are asking the court to determine “whether property legitimately allocated to them as entitlements and remuneration can be considered as state government assets.”

They are seeking “a determination of court whether or not by the combined effect of sections 5(2), 44, 318(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the executive actions and decisions of the Governor and Government of Benue State taken by Ortom and Abounu and the State Executive Council, in good faith before May 29th, 2023, were valid.”

They also want the court to determine “whether or not the Governor of Benue State is not bound by the constitutional approvals made by his predecessor.”

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The duo contended that the asset recovery committee set up by Alia has no power to interfere with their rights to own property “vested in them by the Benue State Government at all material times or without following due process.

The court has yet to fix a date for hearing.

George Oshogwe Ogbolu is a Digital Media Strategist | Content Writer | Journalist | New Media Influencer | Proofreader and Editor at Naija News.

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