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Monday, July 15, 2024

Court orders substituted service on Justice Taiwo, 2 other members of Benue probe panel 

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A Benue State High Court has ordered that court process in the suit filed by immediate past Governor of Benue State, Chief Samuel Ortom, be served on the chairman of the income and expenditure commission in Benue State, Justice Taiwo Taiwo through substituted means.

Also affected by the order is Mr Henry Tor and Terfa Gbaande, both members of the income and expenditure commission.

Justice T. T Asua had on May 29th, 2024, restrained the Benue State Income and Expenditure Commission from sitting or taking any further steps pending the hearing and determination of the motion by Chief Ortom, challenging the legality of the panel, as the Auditor General of the State who is mandated by the provisions of the 1999 Constitution has already audited the accounts of the state, amongst other reasons.

When the matter was called up, counsel to Chief Ortom, Oba Maduabuchi, SAN, prayed for an order of substituted service on Justice Taiwo Taiwo, Henry Tor and Tor Gbande, by serving them through the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice and Public Order, Benue State.

According to Ortom’s counsel, all attempts to serve the three parties had proved unsuccessful.

Ruling on the matter, the Presiding Judge, Justice Asua granted the motion as prayed.

Justice Asua accordingly adjourned the matter to July 3rd, 2024.

It will be recalled that in February this year, Governor Hyacinth Alia of Benue state set up two separate panels to probe the management of the state’s finances and assets under the immediate past administration of Chief Samuel Ortom.

In response to the probe panels, Chief Ortom filed a suit, challenging the the legality of the probe panel on the grounds that, the Auditor General of the state had already audited the accounts of the state within the period(2015-2023)under review, and had submitted the report to the Benue State House of Assembly which accordingly acted on the report as required in line with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.

Ortom also argued that, having reported the question of the situation of the finances of Benue State for the period of 2015-2023 to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, it was wrong to set up the probe panel to investigate finances of Benue State within the same period as it would amount to double investigation of the same issues by two different bodies.

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