The management of London Line Transport Company Ltd has written a petition to the Governor of Benue State, Hyacinth Alia, over the invasion of its premises by the Assets Recovery Committee set up by the state government.
Recall that members of Benue State Assets Recovery Committee on July 11, 2023, invaded the premises of London Line along Otukpo Road, Makurdi, and carted away vehicles they claimed were government vehicles taken away by the immediate past Governor of the state, Samuel Ortom.
In the petition to Governor Alia dated July 14, 2023, signed by the Chief Executive Officer of London Line Transport Ltd, Chief Emmanuel Viashima, the company stated that officials of the committee led by Barr Tom Uja, forcefully broke into their premises, took stock of vehicles, and carted them away.
The company said the committee members harassed alarmed workers who had started recording the invasion and seized some of their phones, which were later returned.
According to Viashima, upon being informed of the development, he rushed to the scene to make sense out of the entire chaotic scenario, and to his utter disbelief, he was locked out of the premises and refused entry.
Shocked by the action of the committee, he quickly reached out to his landlords and lawyers, who later arrived on the scene, gained entry, and upon inquiry, were informed that there was a search warrant issued for the Committee to impound any Hilux, Prado, and GAC brand of vehicles, as well as any bus found within the premises.
He revealed that his lawyers raised issues on the Gestapo invasion against the practice and procedure of executing search warrants, which demand a search of the officers seeking to carry out the search to forestall the planting of incriminating exhibits.
The CEO said in spite of the fact that the purported search warrant was patently, latently and inherently defective as it was not directed towards any named person or entity on the face of the said document, which made its
His authenticity contestable, and his team rendered all forms of assistance to ensure that there was minimal rancor.
Viashima further stated that in spite of the information provided by his team to the Committee that the vehicles belonged to companies and individuals, the Committee mobilized persons to line up the vehicles in a convoy to be videoed, thereby setting up his business for maximum damaging publicity, which would impact negatively on the genuine business of the company.
He said since the incident, the social media space and main stream media have been awash with the false impression that vehicles all belonging to the Benue State Government were taken away by former Governor Samuel
Ortom has been stashed on the company’s premises.
Viashima described the manner in which press men and a crowd of fierce-looking thugs occupied both the main premises and surroundings of the company while the operation lasted as uncalled for.
He drew the attention of Governor Alia to a Facebook post published on Wednesday, July 12, 2023, by Mr. Tersoo Kulas, the Chief Press Secretary to the Benue State Governor, on the incident where he maliciously posted photos of vehicles parked in premises that were not from the company, such as those towed away from London Line business premises.
He further said such pictures have also trended with attendant negative effects on the line of business they do, which is essentially to cater for the vehicular needs of the patronizing public without regard to race, religion, or political leaning.
Mr. Viashima revealed that the company is already experiencing immediate consequences and direct fallout from the negative publicity as a result of the invasion.
Also, contrary to claims by the Asset Recovery Committee that 30 vehicles were towed away from the company’s premises, the CEO gave the number of vehicles forcefully taken away from the company by the committee as 32.
He debunked the claim that all the vehicles carted away, as well as the workshop, belonged to former Governor Samuel Ortom.
He disclosed that the premises are only owned by his landlords, Oracle Business Ltd., but London Line Transport Company Ltd. has been in lawful occupation of the premises on lease, where it has carried out repairs and refurbishment services for many years for a wide range of clients, including the Benue State Government, as records would bear.
He lamented that his wife’s Lexus 250 was terribly destroyed by the Orthe Committee in the process of forcibly tying and towing it away and proceeded to itemize each of the 32 vehicles carted away, their owners, and vehicle particulars.
The company is therefore demanding general damages to the tune of N5 billion.
The letter, which was addressed to the governor, was also copied to the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, the National Human Rights Commission, the Inspector General of Police, the Commissioner of Police, the Benue State Command, the President, Nigerian Bar Association, Abuja, the Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, Makurdi, the Secretary to the Benue State Government, the Chairman, Assets Recovery Committee, and the Tor Tiv.