Callistus Agwaza, Jalingo
Counsel to the Tiv people in Taraba on Monday announced their withdrawal from participating in the panel of inquiry constituted by the Taraba State government into the crisis between Tiv and Jukun in parts of the state.
Lead Counsel to the Tiv interests in the state Barr. Sabastine Hon (SAN) who disclosed this in Jalingo said that they had no confidence in the Commission as it’s composition, title and just about everything is aimed at profiling the Tiv people in the state.
Hon said that the Commission has dismissed their preliminary objection seeking to stop the sitting of the Commission pending determination of suite filed at the federal High Court Abuja, challenging the Commission.
” We are withdrawing. We don’t have confidence in the commission because right from the instrument setting up the Commission, to the terms of reference to the publication of terms of reference, the Tiv people have been profiled… The commission of inquiry is supposed to name all the parties and this named only the Tiv and their neighbors. So that is discriminatory, contrary to section 42 of the Constitution. It is also a ground, preparatory for violation of fundamental human rights of fair hearing of Tiv people. We raised this and the fact that the terms of reference also delved into criminality. We raised objections on all these and they overruled us. Section 2 sub 2 of commission of inquiry law of Taraba state says you must name all the parties. But only theTiv people are named. What happens to the other parties?
“Again, we came to the court today they didn’t even list the people they named. They listed other memoranda for consideration. So from day 1 we are afraid, and genuinely so. So We told them pointedly that we don’t have confidence in the composition of this panel. We also told them that there is a pending matter seeking to enforce the fundamental rights of the Tiv people at Abuja High Court. They are party to that matter and still went ahead and overruled us inspire of the pendency of that matter. So we don’t have confidence in the commission and we will not appearing again. We are not coming here again” Hon said.
Ruling on the preliminary objection raised earlier by lead counsel to the Tiv interests, Chairman of the Commission Justice Kumai Bayang Ka’ah said that “this is just a fact finding commission aimed at finding lasting peace in the state. I give my word that the members of the commission are not here as mere rubber stamp to name anyone. We’ll continue to try as much as possible to search for the facts so that we can make meaningful recommendations. You’re free to withdraw but we will go ahead and slat the memoranda for hearing. The Objection is hereby dismissed and overruled. Commission is hereby adjourned to resume sitting on Wednesday to continue with business.
“Let me disabuse the people’s minds especially the Tiv that they are been singled out. The title might be a misnornal but you don’t dismiss a book just by looking at it’s cover”.
Meanwhile Abdul Ibrahim, lead counsel to the Jukun traditional council and Wukari local government in his reaction to the withdrawal of the Tiv from the commission said that he was satisfied with the development.
Ibrahim said that “we are here to ventilate our grievances so that lasting peace would be found between the Tiv and the Jukun. Some people have decided to step out. Fine. The fact that they are leaving does not mean we don’t have our own grievances and it is not at the whims and caprices of others for us to ventilate them”.
Council to the Tiv people had earlier prayed the commission to either adjourn sine die or stay proceedings pending the determination of the suite at the federal hight court Abuja, or decline jurisdiction because only one party is named in the commission.