Former national chairman of the All Progressives’ Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, has publicly apologised to Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, for libelous statements he made nearly three years ago.
As APC chairman, Oshiomhole implied during a media briefing that he suspected the governor was involved in the murder of two Catholic priests.
The priests were killed alongside 17 parishioners by gunmen who attacked Ayar Mbalon village, Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue in April 2018.
The attack was one in a series of attacks that compelled Ortom to dump the APC for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) due to the inability of the APC-controlled Federal Government to deal with the insecurity situation.
In reacting to Ortom’s defection, Oshiomhole accused him of worsening insecurity in the state, and pointed fingers at him over the murder of the priests.
“One of these Reverend Fathers in a church sermon was extremely critical of the governance in Benue and of the style of governance of Governor Ortom and his price obviously was that few weeks after this sermon he had to pay with his dear life,” he said on July 27, 2018.
Ortom promptly sued Oshiomhole, a former Edo governor, to court and demanded N10 billion for the libelous statement against him.
The case dragged on in court for a while with the defendant requesting out-of-court settlement, and Oshiomhole finally apologised in a national newspaper on Thursday, March 18, 2021.
He said he has since found the basis of the information he had at the time to be baseless, and regretted the ridicule he brought on Ortom.
“Owing to the relationship we share and in the larger interest of peace, harmony, and brotherliness, I believe a complete and unequivocal retraction of my comments made on 27th July, 2018, and which Dr Samuel Ortom found offensive, is proper and necessary,” the former governor said.
The former APC chairman had vowed at the time that Ortom would not secure a second term in office because of his defection to the PDP, but the governor won the 2019 election.
Oshiomhole was unceremoniously sacked as APC chairman last year after a two-year reign filled with controversies and public spats.