Court Rejects Committee’s Proposal to Merge Jukun-Kona Ruling Houses 

Daji Sani in Yola

A Taraba State High Court sitting in Jalingo has quashed the recommendation of the Fidelis Kaigama Committee set up to review the gazette of the state government on the ruling houses of the Jukun Konna Kingdom.

The committee had in its report recommended that four ruling houses entitled to the Kona traditional institution be reduced to only two to allow easy selection of the future traditional leader of the kingdom.

In its decision recently, however, the court nullified the recommendation of the committee that reviewed Jukun-Kona’s ruling houses from four to two.

The presiding judge, Justice Silas Haruna recently delivered the judgement in Jalingo, the Taraba State capital, a decision that averted the crisis in the kingdom.

In his reaction recently, President, Jukun Konna Developmental Association, Mr Vincent Yakubu said the decision of the court had really addressed the problem of the kingdom. 

Yakubu added that some people wanted to put the entire kingdom into a serious crisis, which according to him, might cost lives and properties.

He, however, thanked God for the decision of the court that rejected the recommendation of the committee, which recognised Badoni’s family as one of the royal families in Jukun Konna Kingdom, due allegedly of their intimacy to Taraba State Governor, Mr. Darius Ishaku.  

At the beginning of the kingship problem, Ishaku was accused of signing an illegally altered gazette to remove ruling houses and replace them with the family of his friend, Fidelis Kaigama.

The altered gazette, first published in 2022, culminated in the collapse of four ruling houses into two, including the ruling house of the current monarch of Jukun-Jibu Kona Kingdom, Augustine Njenmang Vengkani II.

In the 2018 gazette, the ruling houses of the Jukun-Kona Kingdom were listed to include Panni/Noku Ayimu, Agauwan, Yim and Namen Numtai.

The altered gazette, however, had replaced the four ruling houses with only Bajibro and Badami ruling clans. The gazette was said to have been secretly altered without consulting members of the four ruling houses.

If the altered gazette is eventually allowed, the current monarch will be the last person to be the Kuru of Jukun Kona  from the Namen Numtai ruling clan.

Having realised that he was tricked into endorsing a letter to the governor, the monarch wrote a letter to the governor that he had withdrawn from his support for the alteration of ruling houses from four to two.

The letter said: “While I and members of my council still stand on all the observations raised in that letter, I however wish to strongly withdraw the last paragraph which specifically requested for the alteration of the ruling houses from 4 to 2.

“Moreso, the ruling houses contained the 2018 gazette are derived from the ancient defunct Kona chiefdom that was cancelled by the Filani cum European colonial administrators both in 1892 and 1936 respectively and they are the authentic and valid ruling houses of Kona chiefdom since time immemorial and therefore cannot be arbitrarily altered to accommodate other clans that have no connection to the throne of the chiefdom. 

“Therefore, I wish to confess that I was not properly guided or well informed of the implication of the proposed alteration of the ruling house by the few people.”

When called for response, the spokesperson of the governor, Bala Dan Abu declined comments, saying the matter was in court and commenting on it would be subjudice.”

In his response, Kaigama acknowledged: “l am the Chairman of the 11-member Advisory Council with other respected Kona personalities, including members of the families of those that are now complaining.

“When the 2018 official gazette for the Kona chiefdom was released, the advisory committee met to scrutinise it with a view to making sure that its content reflects the correct and acceptable information that was provided to the government by the Chiefdom after wide consultation and exhaustive deliberations.

“Having carefully studied and reviewed the document, the committee recommended alteration in some sections including, but not limited to the part that had to do with the ruling houses because of some noticeable errors.

“Therefore, for anybody or group to say that the gazette was secretly altered without consultation is nothing, but a lie from the pit of hell since members of the families that are now raising eyebrow about the alteration were in attendance and also consented to the unanimous decision for corrections to be recommended to the council, and same was reflected in the minute of the meeting.

“Also, the statement that the four ruling houses, including the house of the current monarch and by extension, the chief himself has been removed is not only false, but also malicious. 

“As far as I know, no recommendation was made for the removal of any chief from the throne as it is public knowledge that the present Kuru Kona, Mr. Augustine Njenmang Vengkani II remains the recognised chief who is occupying the stool of Kona Chiefdom without let or hindrances.

“The ruling houses that were said to have been illegally removed were not removed at all. What the committee recommended was the removal of the regents (Panni/Noku Ayimu) that was erroneously captured as one of the Ruling clans of the Kona Chiefdom because they are children of a woman, whom culturally cannot ascend to the throne nor her children, but were only given the throne in trust.

“Right from the foundation of the Kona traditional institution, chiefs are selected from the four ruling clans by the seven King-makers and not from families. The original four ruling clans of Kona are: Bajibro, Badoni, Bamursi and Bamurtai.

“What happened was that, the Kona Traditional Council after reviewing the report of the committee, decided to merge the ruling clans into two, purposely for ease of selection process since they are one and the same people and all are entitled to vie for the throne whenever vacancy existed.

“No ruling clan is excluded from contesting for the seat of Kuru Kona. As a matter of fact, the present monarch is from one of the merged clans (Bajibro). 

“Therefore, to say that he has been removed and replaced by the house of Fidelis Kaigama is not only spurious, but also mischievous, inciting, spiteful and evil, to say the least.

“The ruling houses in the altered 2018 gazette is nothing, but mere listing of names of individual families. Such is a sharp deviation from the practice as laid down by our forebears from the very foundation of Kona chieftaincy arrangement. 

“In fact, three out of the four families listed in the gazette belong to the same family, which I think, was the reason for their merger,” said in his response to THISDAY’s inquiry.

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