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Former Governor, Deputy lose bid to recover 32 vehicles seized from them after leaving office as court strikes out suit

Former Governor, Deputy lose bid to recover 32 vehicles seized from them after leaving office as court strikes out suit

A Makurdi High Court has struck out the suit filed by former governor Samuel Ortom and his deputy, Benson Abounu, to challenge the retrieval of vehicles from them by the Hyacinth Alia-led Benue State government.

The court struck out the suit for being speculative and seeking to limit the constitutional powers of the governor.

Ortom and Abounu had instituted Suit No: MHC/199/2023 to challenge the retrieval of vehicles and properties allegedly donated to them and their cabinet members by the Benue State Executive Council before they handed over on May 29, 2023.

They alleged that the retrieval was a constitutional affront to their collective right to ownership of property legally and legitimately vested in them.


However, counsel to the Government of Benue State, the Governor of Benue State and the Chairman of the Assets Recovery Committee, Mohammed Ndarani (SAN), filed a preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain, hear and determine the suit on the grounds that it was speculative as it failed to give identity of the cars and properties allegedly taken from the plaintiffs.

Ndarani also argued that the suit 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.

Arguing further, Ndarani maintained 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 maintained that the committee was also not shown to have completed it work to conclusively establish whether it had permanently taken custody of any vehicles, noting that for investigative purposes, temporary taking of custody of vehicles is allowed under the Constitution.

In his submission, Douglas Pepe (SAN) alleged that over 32 vehicles donated to Ortom and his deputy by the Benue State Executive Council before they left office on May 29, 2023, had been taken custody of by the defendants.

He argued that the development was an affront to their right to ownership of property.

However, in a ruling on Wednesday, the court presided by Justice Theresa Igoche upheld the preliminary objection filed by the defendants, noting that the suit was speculative for failing to establish a cause of action.

The judge also ruled that the suit sought to delimit the constitutional powers of the defendants, as provided by Section 5(2) of the Constitution.

She consequently struck out the suit.

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