Assets recovery: Ortom, deputy drag Benue govt to court

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  • Say Alia violating rights to own property vested on them by govt

BY TIMOTHY AGBOR 

The immediate past governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, and his deputy, Benson Abounu, have dragged the state government before a state High Court sitting in Makurdi over the mandate of the Asset Recovery Committee set up by Governor Hyacinth Alia.

This followed the suspicion that the Committee was set up to ultimately seize some assets belonging to the former governor, his deputy and other officials of the Ortom administration.

Ortom and his deputy are asking the court to determine whether the property legitimately allocated to them as entitlements and remuneration could still be considered as state government assets.

The Governor of Benue State, Benue State Government and Chairman of the Committee, Hingah Biem (for himself and on behalf of members of Assets Recovery Committee as first, second and third defendants), respectively, were joined in the suit, marked ‘MHC/199/2023’, and filed by Mr. Douglas Pepe for the plaintiffs, former Governor Ortom and Mr. Abounu.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to determine:

“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 Mr. Abounu and the State Executive Council, in good faith before May 29, 2023, were valid.

“Whether or not the governor of Benue State is not bound by the constitutional approvals made by his predecessor.”

The plaintiffs are seeking the following reliefs:
“A declaration that by the combined effect of sections 5(2), 44,318(1) of the 1999 Constitution, the executive actions and decisions of the 1st and 2nd defendants taken by the plaintiffs and the State Executive Council, in good faith before 29/05/2023 were valid, among others.”

The former governor, his deputy and others are also seeking an order of injunction restraining the defendants, by themselves, agents, successors or privies, from violating the plaintiffs’ individual and collective rights to own property validly vested on them by the Benue State government.

A date has not been fixed for the hearing of the matter.