Tiv-Jukun Crisis: Court Summons Taraba Gov, Ex-Supreme Court Justice, Security Chiefs, 16 Others over Probe Panel

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By Alex Enumah

Justice Ahmed Mohammed on Wednesday ordered the Governor of Taraba State, Darius Ishaku, a former Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Kumai Aka’ahs (rtd) and heads of security agencies in the country, to appear before him in respect of the tribal clashes in Taraba State.

They are to appear before the court on August 26, 2020 to show cause why they should not be restrained from continuing with investigations into the Tiv/Jukun crisis in Taraba State.

The judge made the order while ruling in an exparte application seeking to stop the Commission of Inquiry into the Crises Between Tiv and Their Neighbouring Communities in Taraba State and Other Related Matters, from proceeding further in its assignment over alleged bias.

The applicants, the Incorporated Trustees of Mzough U Tiv and five others, had dragged the respondents to court over the constitution of the probe panel into the tribal clashes in Taraba State.

Other applicants are President General, Mzough U Tiv and rtd CP, Mr Ihiagh Iorbee, Hon. David Uchiv, Hon. Jacob Gbagede, Hon. Julius Kwaghkar and Dr Yakubu Agbidye.

In the exparte motion filed and argued on their behalf by their lawyers led by Chief Sebastine Hon (SAN), the applicants who sued on behalf of themselves and the Tiv people, including those of Taraba State, prayed the court for an interim injunction restraining the fourth to 12th respondents (chairman, members, secretary and counsel of the panel) from, “taking any further step pursuant to the instrument constituting them as such Commission of Inquiry, pending the determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction”.

They also prayed the court for another interim injunction restraining the 13th to 19th respondents — Chiefs of Defence, Army, Air and Naval Staffs; IG; DG, DSS; Commandant, NSCDC — “from continuing to aid and abet the forceful removal of the applicants and their tribesmen from their ancestral homes and other places of residence in Taraba State, pending the determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction”.

The exparte, which was predicated on 11 grounds, accused the governor of “showing open hatred for the Tiv tribe in Taraba” and using his office in collaboration with the security chiefs, “to forcefully/genocidally evict Tiv tribesmen from Taraba State”.

They argued that the governor profiled the Tiv tribe and isolated them for adversity, when it failed to mention the other “communities” in the instrument setting up the Commission of Inquiry into the Crises “between the Tiv and their Neighbouring Communities”.

While the applicants also accused the panel of profiling the Tiv tribe, they noted that by its composition, the panel is likely to breach the fundamental right of fair hearing of the applicants.

They urged the court to intervene as the panel, which has only three months to sit and submit its report to the governor, was expected to commence sitting on August 17, adding that the security chiefs till date are “aiding and abetting the governor in the genocidal eviction of the applicants’ Tiv tribesmen from Taraba State, unless restrained by this court”.

In addition, they claimed that unless the application is granted, their fundamental rights and that of their tribesmen will continue to be breached unabated.

Delivering ruling in the exparte, Justice Mohammed however, made an order directing all respondents in the suit to appear before him on August 26 and show cause why the interim injunction order as prayed by the applicants should not be granted.

The judge further ordered that court processes and hearing notices be served on all the respondents and adjourned till August 26 for hearing.

In the main suit with number: FHC/ABJ/CS/955/2020, the plaintiffs want the court to declare that the setting up of the panel amounts to a flagrant breach of their fundamental rights as well as their tribesmen.

While they claimed that the panel as presently constituted would breach their right to fair hearing, they prayed the court for an order quashing the said instrument setting up the panel as well as the public invitation by the panel that interested person’s submit memoranda to them, as being vague, unconstitutional, null and void.

They also prayed for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the first to third respondents (Ishaku, Taraba State Government and Attorney General (AG), “from receiving and or acting on any report/resolutions of the 4th-12th respondents, arrived at in the exercise of the powers conferred on them by the instrument setting up the 4th respondent”.

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 13th-19th respondents, either by themselves or through their officers and men, from aiding and abetting or continuing to aid and abet the discriminatory policies of the 1st and 2nd respondents against the applicants/ Tiv tribe in Taraba State” and “such other orders as this court may seem fit to make in the circumstances”.