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Governor Ortom Drags Akume To Court for ‘Libel’, Demands N60bn As Damages

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Samuel Ortom, Benue state governor, has instituted a N60 billion suit against George Akume, minister of special duties and intergovernmental affairs.

The suit marked MHC/268/2021 was filed before a high court in Makurdi, on Friday, 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.

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