A Makurdi High Court presided over by Justice Adam Onum, has fixed November 9 for ruling on the suit filed by the immediate past governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, challenging the setting up of a judicial commission of inquiry by his predecessor, Samuel Ortom to probe the income and expenditure of his administration between 2007 and 2015.
Justice Onum who announced the date when the case came up for hearing said he would consolidate the judgment so that it would cover the suit filed by Suswam challenging the constitution of the commission of enquiry into the states’s assets and liabilities.
During the adoption of written addresses, counsels to Suswam and Ortom argued in favour of their clients.
Sebastian Hon, SAN, counsel for Ortom who had filed a motion urging the court to dismiss the entire suit because the courtit did not have the jurisdiction to entertain the matter explained that the state’s commission of enquiry law stipulates that it can only be challenged at the instance of the attorney general of the state and urged the court to discountenance the suit with cost.
He referred to the 1963 and 1979 Constitutions of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and argued that the provisions in the two constitutions, which do not restrict powers of investigation to the House of Assembly, give the governor powers to constitute panels of investigation.
He cited Appeal Court and Supreme Court rulings to buttress his argument and added that Section 4(7a) and other sections of the 1999 Constitution give the governor the power of investigation.
On the issue of the appointment of the Chairman of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry, Mrs Margaret Kpojime, which counsel to Suswan, Mr. J D Dauda, SAN, had said was wrong because separation of powers does not encourage it, Hon said Justice Nikki Tobi of the Supreme Court was once appointed Chairman of the Constitutional Conference by the Federal Government because of the need for synergy and public interest.
Earlier, Mr. J D Dauda, SAN, had told the court that the 1999 Constitution superseded the 1963 Constitution from which the Benue State commission of enquiry derived its strength and urged that there should be a judicial review of the two commissions of enquiry set up by the present administration.
Daudu, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, also said the 1963 and 1979 Constitutions were no longer relevant in the instant case, insisting that Section 4 of the 1999 Constitution makes provision for the House of Assembly to investigate matters and not the governor.
He equally told the court that Justice Kpojime being a staff of the state judiciary was not supposed to be appointed chairman of the judicial commission of enquiry and explained that the chairman should have been appointed from outside as required by the law.

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