The management of London Line Transport Company Ltd has written a petition to the governor of Benue State Hyacinth Alia over the invasion of the firm’s premises by the Assets Recovery Committee set up by the state government.
Members of the committee on July 11, 2023, stormed the premises of the company on Otukpo Road, Makurdi and carted away vehicles which they claimed were owned by the state government that were taken away by the immediate past governor of the state, Samuel Ortom.
In the petition dated July 14, 2023, signed by the company’s chief executive officer, Chief Emmanuel Viashima, and made available to press men, he said officials of the committee led by Barr Tom Uja, broke into their premises, took stock of vehicles and carted them away.
Hel said the committee members harassed alarmed workers who had started recording the invasion and seized some of their phones which were later returned.
Viashima continued that 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 reached out to his landlords and lawyers who later arrived the scene, gained entry and upon enquiry, they 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 demands a search of the officers seeking to carry out the search to forestall 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 authenticity contestable, his team rendered all forms of assistance to ensure that there was minimal rancour.
According to Viashima, in spite of the information by his team to the committee that the vehicles belonged to companies and individuals, the committee mobilised 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 mainstream media had been awash with the false impression that vehicles belonging to the Benue State government and taken away by the former governor were kept in the company’s premises.
Viashima, described as uncalled for, the manner pressmen and crowd of fierce-looking thugs occupied both the main premises and surroundings of the company while the operation lasted.
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 are not from the company as those towed away from London Line business premises.
The CEO of London Line Transport Ltd added that the reading public has feasted on the post with several un-salutary statements impugning and making a caricature of its corporate image.
He said such pictures had also trended with attendant negative effect on the line of business they do which is essentially to cater for the vehicular needs of the patronizing public without regards to race, religion or political leaning.
Viashima revealed that the company is already experiencing immediate consequences and direct fall out of 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 Ortom.
He disclosed that the premises is 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 carries out repairs and refurbishment services for many years to a wide range of clients, including the Benue State government as records would bear.
He lamented that his wife’s Lexus 250 was destroyed by the committee in the process of forcibly tying and towing it away and proceeded to itemise each of the 32 vehicles carted away, their owners and vehicle particulars.
The company is demanding for general damages to the tune of N5 billion.
The petition which was addressed to the governor was also copied to the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, National Human Rights Commission, the Inspector General of Police, commissioner of police, Benue State Command, president, Nigerian Bar Association, Abuja, Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, Makurdi, secretary to the Benue State government, chairman, Assets Recovery Committee and the Tor Tiv.