Witness admits testimony based on lawyer’s information in Benue land dispute case

A witness, Abraham Uwua, on Tuesday, admitted to a Benue State High Court in Makurdi that his testimony was based on information he received from his lawyer.

Uwua was testifying in a suit he filed alongside Terlumun Tyav, Terwase Zeku, and Pastor Cyprian Terwase against Peter Adejoh, Engr Mike Jijingi, the Government of Benue State, Commissioner for Land & Solid Minerals, Benue State, and Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Benue State.

When the matter came up for continuation of hearing, Uwua, who was led in evidence by his counsel, Doowuese Adike, adopted his witness statement before the court.

During cross-examination by counsel to Adejoh, Samuel Adama, Uwua was asked if all the information contained in his witness statement before the court were based on what he heard from the lawyer appointed by the community to negotiate compensation with the Benue State Government on their behalf over their land.

He answered in the affirmative.

Another witness, Zaki Gabriel Yagba, who claimed in his statement that Adejoh and officials of the Benue State Government brought police to chase them away from the disputed land, contradicted himself during cross-examination.

He told the court that he never saw Adejoh or officials of the Benue State Government with police or security personnel on their community land.

Yagba, who stated in his witness statement that he was one of those who signed the Power of Attorney given to Barrister Mbafan Ekpendu to represent the community in the negotiations, could not identify his signature when the document was shown to him.

The plaintiffs thereafter closed their case after the testimony of the two witnesses, which brought the total number of witnesses called by the plaintiffs to four.

The presiding judge, Justice Tertsea Kume, adjourned the matter until July 11, 2024, for the defendants to open their defense.

In the suit number MHC/179/23, the plaintiffs alleged that the Benue State Government wants to compulsorily acquire their ancestral land and sell it to a developer without payment of any form of compensation, among others.

They are seeking an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants by themselves, their agents, or anyone acting by or through them from compulsorily taking over the communal land situated at Tse Agbuu, Mbachugh, Utuurn Community, and Ikyouv/Mbachugh, Utuurn Community, all of Bar Council Ward of Makurdi Local Government Area of Benue State, for any purpose other than overriding public interest, among others.

In his reply to the suit, the first defendant, Peter Adejoh, denied ever engaging anyone to use a bulldozer to destroy or grade the farm land, crops and economic trees of the plaintiffs.

He also averred that he has never at any time personally owned or possessed any land with the plaintiffs’ community or claims any form of interest or exercised any act of ownership in respect of same.

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