The asset recovery committee set up by Benue State Governor, Hyacinth Alia, on Tuesday, stormed the automobile workshop owned by former governor of the state, Samuel Ortom, with towing vehicles and removed some vehicles.
Alia, through his Chief Press Secretary, Kula Tersoo, had recently disclosed that government vehicles, numbering 29, were allegedly looted by the immediate past governor.
Tersoo had said in the statement that “the case of the Goverment House is particularly pitiable with vandalised furniture, window blinds, electronics and other household appliances.”
“This is besides the carting away of all vehicles, including an ambulance and A press crew bus, attached to the office of the governor.
“At the last count, 29 vehicles, attached to the governor’s office, are still no where to be found,” he added.
It was gathered some vehicles were impounded during Tuesday’s operation. The committee reportedly used towing vans to pull out some vehicles after attempts to drive them away failed.
Reacting, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Benue State accused Alia of witch hunting his predecessor.
The State Publicity Secretary, Bemgba Iortyom, in a statement described the committee’s outing as “a shameful showing of naked tyranny and impunity.”
“Earlier today, thugs accompanied by security agents purporting to be on an assets recovery mission, raided a private automobile workshop owned by the former governor’s business concern, Oracle Nig. Ltd., carting away motor vehicles at the premises of the workshop.
“Staff of the workshop have confirmed to PDP that the vehicles, of a yet to be ascertained number, were those brought there for repairs by private owners and are not in any way from any public source.
“PDP notes that this is yet another manifestation of disregard for the rule of law by the Benue State Governor, considering there is a subsisting court order barring his government from tampering with the assets of the former governor, specifically motor vehicles, Iortyom said.
Recall that Ortom and his deputy, Benson Abounu, secured a court order restraining the asset recovery committee from coming after them.
In the suit, filed through their lawyer, Douglas Pepe (SAN), Ortom and Abounu asked the court to determine “whether property legitimately allocated to them as entitlements and remuneration can be considered as state government assets.”
They are seeking “a determination of court whether or not by the combined effect of sections 5(2), 44, 318(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the executive actions and decisions of the Governor and Government of Benue State taken by Ortom and Abounu and the State Executive Council, in good faith before May 29th, 2023, were valid.”
The ex-governor and his deputy also want the court to determine “whether or not the Governor of Benue State is not bound by the constitutional approvals made by his predecessor.”
They are contending that the asset recovery committee set up by Alia has no power to interfere with their rights to own property “vested in them by the Benue State Government at all material times or without following due process.”