The Governor is demanding N10billion as damages for comments Oshiomhole made against him after he dumped the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
A letter by his lawyer, Samuel Irabor, accused Oshiomhole of making “astonishing, unsubstantiated, wild and wide allegations relating to the issue of allocation and payment of salaries, security votes expenditure and the insecurity in Benue State.”
Irabor quoted the former Edo Governor as saying “Gov. Ortom has not and is not paying salaries… the vicious circle of poverty in Benue State has been deepened under Gov. Ortom”.It read in part: “It is the aggregate of your allegations that our client has confessed to sharing Benue State money with party leaders and that despite collection of bail out and Paris Club refund monies”.
He added: “By deducible analysis, it is also your allegation that our client is responsible for the killings in Benue State specifically the unfortunate killing of 2 Catholic priests and their parishioners in Mbalom community which sad event occurred on the morning of 24th April, 2018.“It is noteworthy that in the entire web of false accusations that you weaved against our client, you could not bring yourself to mention a single Benue person or any other person for that matter from whom you sourced your false narratives. For the records, the principles of law grounding liability for defamation and libel do not exculpate tale bearers from liability for the reason that the tales they bear are not original to them.“It is the complaint of our client that the false and offensive publication has deeply injured his reputation by portraying him in literal, unequivocal and unambiguous terms as a dishonest, fraudulent and violent person who has not only diverted the various intervention fund meant for salaries and arrears by sharing same with party leaders but is also an accomplice to the killings in Benue State.“It was in this parlous state that the Samuel Ortom led administration applied for the said #69 billion as bail out funds but it received #28 billion of which #12.5 billion was meant for the state and the balance of it was meant for the Local Government Areas. After carrying out staff verification, the State paid 4 months arrears for January 2015 – April 2015 and was able to save #1.6 Billion as a positive consequence of the verification exercise. Unfortunately the #1.6 billion saved from the verification exercise was garnished by the workers of Taraku Mills Ltd who had earlier secured judgment at the National Industrial Court before our client became Governor.
On the issue of Paris Club refund, the expenditure profile by the Benue State Government is also in the public domain as our client in the spirit of transparency, probity, honesty and accountability has variously engaged the Benue people through several interactive sessions entailing phone-in programs vide the state media.
The records show that the 1st tranche of Paris Club refund amounting to #12.7 billion was received in December, 2016 and used in facilitating 2 months salaries across board. The 2nd tranche came in June 2017 amounting to #6.4 billion and was also used to offset salary, pension and gratuities while the Benue State Government in agreement with the Labour Congress in Benue State took an overdraft of #8 billion in anticipation of the 3rd tranche which was also utilized to settle indebtedness to workers.”
Irabor then made the following demands: “A letter of retraction/apology addressed to our client in respect of the false, defamatory and libelous statement made against him in the sponsored press conference herein complained of.
“That the said retraction/apology be simultaneously published in the Sunday edition of 10 National Dailies circulating within Benue State as well as a paid advertorial to the same effect on the prime time beats of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Channels Tv, TVC News, African Independent Television (AIT), Independent Television (ITV) Benin, Radio Nigeria, Radio Benue and Harvest FM, Makurdi.
“An undertaking not to indulge in any such false publication against our client in future.
“Payment of #10,000,000,000.00k (Ten Billion Naira) only to our client as punitive, general, exemplary and aggravated damages.
“We have our client’s express instruction that the terms above be met within 7 days of receipt of this letter. It is the further instruction of our client that in the event of any failure, refusal or neglect to conform to the terms set out above, he would be left with no option than to commence appropriate legal proceedings against you in the law Court.