Nigerian News

Court bars Benue governor from probing predecessor, Ortom

The Benue State Government has been restrained by a High Court in the state from probing the administration of the former Governor Samuel Ortom.

The Governor Hyacinth Alia administration recently set up a commission of inquiry into the funds (income and expenditure) of Benue State Government from May 29, 2015, to May 28, 2023.

But an injunction obtained on Wednesday, ordered the panel to suspend sitting, pending the hearing and determination of a motion on notice filed by Ortom.

Justice T. T. Asua gave the order while ruling on a motion ex-parte seeking leave of the court to issue the prerogative writ of prohibition on the Benue State income and expenditure commission of inquiry from sitting or taking any action in respect of the terms of reference, paragraph 3(a)-(o), listed in the Benue State of Nigeria Gazette No. 17, Vol. 49 of February 27, 2024, by the Governor of Benue State.

Counsel to Chief Ortom, Oba Maduabuchi, SAN, told the court that the grounds of the application are that the Auditor General is imbued with powers under the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to investigate and probe the finances of the state.

According to Ortom’s counsel, the Auditor General had already investigated, probed, audited, and certified the accounts of the Benue State Government and had submitted his reports to the Benue State House of Assembly as authorized by the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

He stated that the Benue State House of Assembly has also acted on the said report of the Auditor General, as also authorized by the constitution, and all the terms of reference listed in paragraph 3(a)-(o) of the Benue State Gazette No. 17, Vol. 49 of February 27, 2024, have already been investigated and probed by the Auditor General, who wrote reports and submitted to the State Assembly, which also acted on the same.

He further stated that the said report of the Auditor General was published in several Benue State Gazettes, which are public documents.

According to Maduabuchi, SAN, in view of the above facts, the Governor of Benue State lacks the powers to constitute the income and expenditure commission and the commission lacks the jurisdiction to sit and investigate matters listed as items in the gazette, and the action of the governor constitutes a gross abuse of office and vendetta.