The immediate-past governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, and his deputy, Benson Abounu, have filed a lawsuit at the Makurdi High Court following the Asset Recovery Committee recently set up by Governor Hyacinth Alia.
The suit came on the heels of fears being expressed in several quarters that the Assets Recovery Committee was targeted at the erstwhile governor, his deputy and other members of the previous administration.
The duo 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.
Joined in the suit is the Governor of Benue State, Benue State government and chairman of the Committee, Mr. Hingah Biem (for himself and on behalf of members of Assets Recovery Committee as first, second and third defendants) respectively.
In suit No: MHC/199/2023, filed by Mr. Douglas Pepe for the plaintiffs, former Governor Ortom and Mr. Abounu 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 Mr. Abounu and the State Executive Council, in good faith before May 29, 2023, were valid.
The plaintiffs are also seeking a determination of court “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.”
They 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.