Court rules Omehia not entitled to benefits of former Rivers Gov

 

A Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has delivered judgment on the contentious issue of Celestine Omehia’s entitlement to pension benefits from the state government.

The court ruled against the demand by the Rivers State Government and the Rivers State House of Assembly for Omehia to refund over N696m paid to him as pension and other benefits until his derecognition.

The court, while acknowledging that Omehia had never officially served as governor of Rivers State, held that proper interpretation of the governor and deputy governor pension and free benefits law precludes him from benefiting from the pension scheme as stipulated under the state’s pension law.

Justice Daketima Kio, in his judgment on the suit filed by Omehia against the Rivers State Governor, Attorney General of the State, Speaker, and the State House of Assembly, ruled that Omehia cannot be held liable for the errors of the defendants in the suit.

The court emphasized that Omehia never sought recognition from the state government or the House of Assembly, and thus cannot legitimately demand the funds paid to him erroneously.

Justice Kio affirmed the Supreme Court’s characterization of Omehia as an imposter and held that he should not be accorded the status of a former governor or benefit from the governor and deputy governor pension law.

The court refrained from awarding costs in favour of any party, directing that each party should bear its costs.

Counsel to the Rivers State Government and House of Assembly, Success Gibert, expressed satisfaction with the aspect of the judgment favouring his clients.

However, he declined to comment on the ruling regarding the repayment of funds by the claimant, stating that the government will address the matter accordingly.

Counsel to Omehia declined to comment on the judgment.


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