Court Dismisses Ex-Governor Ortom’s Bid To Stop Retrieval of Benue Assets

Justice Theresa Igoche of the Benue State High Court, Makurdi, on Wednesday, dismissed a suit filed by former Governor Samuel Ortom, seeking to stop the state government from retrieving the state’s assets from officials who served in the last administration.

Ortom and his deputy, Benson Abounu, had in the suit challenged the planned retrieval of vehicles and property donated to them and cabinet members by the Benue State Executive Council before their handover on May 29.

They described the move as a constitutional affront to their collective rights to ownership of property legally and legitimately vested in them by the then State Executive Council members.

The Benue State Governor, Hyacinth Alia, the state government, the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Police Force, the Department of State Service (DSS), Hinga Biem, and State Assets Recovery Committee members were listed as respondents in the suit.

In her ruling, Justice Igoche struck out the suit for being speculative and seeking to limit the governor’s constitutional powers.

She described the suit as an academic exercise that sought to delimit the constitutional powers of a governor as contained in Section 5 of the 1999 Constitution.

The judge said: “This court and in fact all other courts will not act on speculation. I believe this suit is premature at this stage as there are no sufficient facts to support the reliefs sought in this originating summons.

“Even on the ground two of the grounds upon which this application is predicted, I agree with the applicants’ counsel that the suit as presently constituted aims at delimiting the constitutional powers of the governor granted by section 5 of the Constitution.

“This case is not saying that the governor’s exercise of powers cannot be questioned at all.

“What I am saying in the instance case is that the plaintiffs have not brought sufficient evidence of any act of the defendants to warrant the determination of the questions set out in the reliefs in the originating summons.”