The management of London Line Transport Company Limited has petitioned Benue State Governor, Rev Fr. Hyacinth Alia, over an alleged invasion of its premises by the state’s Assets Recovery Committee, set up to recover state properties allegedly taken away by the immediate-past governor, Samuel Ortom.
The asset recovery committee, headed by Hinga Biem, had last Tuesday stormed a facility said to be Ortom’s automobile workshop in Markurdi and towed away 32 luxury vehicles.
The government had earlier alleged that Ortom, at the end of his tenure, illegally went away with 29 vehicles belonging to the state.
But Ortom’s aide, Terver Akase, said the 32 vehicles impounded by the asset recovery panel did not belong to the ex-governor.
In a petition to the governor dated July 14, the Chief Executive Officer, London Line Transport Company Limited, Emmanual Viashima, claimed ownership of the impounded vehicles and demanded N5bn damages for alleged forceful invasion of his facility.
The petition was copied to the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission; National Human Rights Commission; Inspector General of Police; Commissioner of Police, Benue State; Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association; the Assets Recovery Committee and the Tor Tiv.
Viashima said the committee members harassed his workers, who, he said, had started recording the invasion, and seized some of their phones which were later returned.
He claimed that all the vehicles carted from the workshop did not belong to the former governor just as he listed owners of the impounded vehicles, among them, Ortom and his wife, Eunice, a traditional ruler and some aides of the former governor.
Varshima lamented that his wife’s Lexus 250 was terribly destroyed by the committee in the process of towing it away.
He said, “Upon being informed of the development, I rushed to the scene to make sense out of the entire chaotic scenario and to my utter disbelief, I was locked out of the premises and refused entry.
“At the moment, the company is already experiencing immediate consequences and direct fallout of the negative publicity as a result of the invasion.
“Contrary to claims by the Assets Recovery Committee that 30 vehicles were towed away from the company’s premises, the number of vehicles forcefully taken away from the company by the committee is 32.
“Your Excellency, it is in the light of the foregoing that I petition your good office to look into the issues I have raised herein with the mindset to erase the erroneous impression created in the minds of the public.
“Order a release of the vehicles seized as well as payment of N5bn damages by the Benue State Government in view of the economic impact of my losses to enable me to mitigate the said losses and jump-start my crumbled business.”