From Uche Nnorom, Makurdi
A Chief Magistrate Court presided over by Isaac Ajim sitting in Makurdi, Benue State capital yesterday heard the preliminary objection in the case between Governor Samuel Ortom and Commissioner, Public Complaint Commission Alhaji Abubakar Tsav.
The governor had instituted a suit against Tsav asking him to explain several allegations raised by him that bother on financial impropriety.
While raising the objection, counsel to the accused, Anthony Agadah argued that what should guide the court to interpret the phrase ‘in due service of his duty’, is to read section 10 of the Public Complaints Commission, PCC act in conjunction with section 5 subsection (2) and section 5 subsection (3) paragraph (D)
He averred that the contention of the respondent is that the accused acted on his own and not within the confines of his duty, adding that the letter written by the accused showed clearly that it emanated from his office as Commissioner of Public Complaint Commission.
According to Agadah, section 211 subsection (3) of the Constitution forbids the Attorney General from abusing his office in exercise of his constitutional powers, maintaining that the accused letter only called for investigation into the act of governance.
“I finally submit that the charge against by client is a nullity and premature. It is an attempt to silence a dogged critic of government and urge the court to grant the application.
In his reply, counsel to Governor Samuel Ortom Andrew Wombo contended that the issue of determination of the suit is not hinged on section 10 of the PCC act, arguing strongly that the section spells out clearly the duties of a Commissioner which does not include writing letter to a sitting Governor.
“The letter is contentious. It is addressed to Governor Samuel Ortom. This is outside the preview of his duty which is stated clearly that he is to receive Petitions and complaints from people. What he has written about the Governor is untrue and that is why we have brought him to court to explain and defend himself and not to bring objection upon objection. I, therefore urge the court to dismiss the preliminary objection for lack of merit”, Wombo submitted.
Having listened to submissions by the parties, the presiding Magistrate adjourned the case to 30th January, 2018 for ruling on the preliminary objection on notice as well as hearing of the application on stay of proceeding.