The brouhaha between Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state and his former Governor now Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental affairs has gone beyond ‘siddon make we abuse we sef’ to a litigation stage as Governor Ortom on Friday instituted a N60 billion suit against George Akume,
The suit marked MHC/268/2021 was filed before a high court in Makurdi by Okon N. Efut, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), and four other lawyers.
Ortom is seeking N50 billion as general damages for libel, and N10 billion as exemplary and aggravated damages.
The writ of summons was backed by a 17-paragraph statement of claim.
In the statement of claim, the governor is seeking a declaration that the text of Akume’s press conference, held on August 30, 2021, in Abuja, and the reports in various national dailies is “scandalous, malicious and injurious” to his person.
He alleged that the press conference was intended to lower his reputation before right-thinking members of the society and to expose him to “hatred, contempt and ridicule”.
The governor is also seeking a perpetual injunction restraining the defendant (Akume) by himself or through any agent, servants or privies from similar or further publication of any defamatory statement against him.
No date has yet been fixed for hearing in the case.
Akume, at a media briefing on Monday, had asked Ortom to tender an “unreserved apology” to President Muhammadu Buhari over his recent interview, and for using “foul language” against the president.
The minister also asked the president to declare a state of emergency in Benue, and called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe Ortom’s administration.
Benue Citizens had alleged that the Buhari administration gave Akume severe conditions to hold his position or be sacked hence his dog war with Ortom. Ortom had always neglected Akume but face Buhari in the constant allegation that Mr. President tacitly support the Killer Fulani Herdsmen to kill and destroy farms because they are his kinsmen.
The new direction of litigation will make many groups quiet until the legal battle is brought to a reasonable bus stop.