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Court Backs Benue Govt To Withdraw 32 Vehicles From Ortom And His Deputy



The Benue State government on Wednesday secured the backing of a High Court to withdraw 32 vehicles donated to the former Governor, Samuel Ortom and his deputy, Benson Abounu, before they left office.

Naija News understands that Justice Theresa Igoche of the Benue State High Court, sitting in Makurdi, yesterday said the Governor Hyacinth Alia-led Benue state has the executive right and power to withdraw the said vehicles.

Justice Igoche dismissed the suit filed by Ortom and his Deputy, Abounu, against Governor Alia on the grounds of being speculative and seeking to limit the exercise of the constitutional powers of the governor.

Ortom and Abounu, in a suit, marked MHC/199/2023, challenged the alleged retrieval of 32 vehicles and properties allegedly donated to them and their cabinet members by the Benue State Executive Council before they left office in May.

The duo alleged that such an action of retrieval was a constitutional affront to their collective right to ownership of property legally and legitimately vested in them.

However, a statement from the Government House on Wednesday stated that the counsel for the state government, Governor Alia and the Chairman of the Assets Recovery Committee, Mohammed Ndarani (SAN), who appeared with Vershima Akaangee and Raphael Ashwe, raised and argued a Notice of Preliminary Objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain, hear and determine the suit on the grounds that it was speculative.

In the statement, Ndarani explained that the suit failed to give the identity of the cars and properties allegedly taken from the plaintiffs.

He said the suit also sought to limit the proper exercise of the executive powers of the governor to appoint appropriate committees to help in the administration of the state.

Ndarani further argued that the terms of reference of the committee to decipher the extent of their powers and to help determine whether the committee had overlapped its authority were not before the court.

He said the committee was also not shown to have completed its work to conclusively establish whether they had permanently taken custody of any vehicles, hence for investigative purposes, temporary taking of custody of vehicles is allowed under the constitution.

Ndarani also stressed that if such “frivolous” suits were allowed to linger, development would be greatly hampered across the country.

But the counsel for the plaintiffs, Douglas Pepe (SAN), who appeared with Paul Sule, maintained that the plaintiffs’ cause of action was potent.

Pepe also argued that over 32 vehicles donated to the plaintiffs by the Benue State Executive Council before they left office on May 29 had been taken custody of by Governor Alia’s government, which according to the lawyer, was an affront to the plaintiffs’ right to ownership of property.

The statement sighted by SaharaReporters noted that the court, in a ruling delivered by Justice Igoche, “Upheld the preliminary objection of the Defendants on two major grounds that, the suit was speculative for failing to establish a cause of action and that the suit indeed sought to delimit the constitutional powers of the Defendants as donated unto them by Section 5(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. She consequently struck out the suit.”