Taraba Crises: Federal High Court Summons Gov Ishaku, Ex-Supreme Court Justice, 17 others

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A Federal High Court in Abuuja has ordered the Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State, retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Kumai Bayang Aka’ahs and 17 others to appear in relation to a suit filed over the communal crises between the Tiv and Jukun tribes in the state.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed made the order on Wednesday while ruling on an ex-parte motion argued by Sebatine Hon (SAN) on behalf of a Tiv group, the Incorporated Trustees Mdzough U Tiv, its President, CP. Ihiagh Iorbee and four others.

Justice Mohammed particularly ordered the respondents, in the fundamental rights enforcement suit, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/955/2020, to appear before the court on August 26, 2020 and show cause why the interim restraining injunctions sought by the applicants in the motion ex-parte should not be granted.

The Judge also ordered the service of all processes in relation to the case and hearing notices on all the respondents. He adjourned till August 26 for the respondents to show cause.

Respondents in the case are the Governor of Taraba State, the Government of Taraba State, the Attorney General (AG) and Commission of Justice of the state, the Commission of Inquiry into the crises between Tiv and their Neighbouring Communities in Taraba States and other Related Matters Thereto, and its members.

The members, listed as the 5th to 12th respondents, are Justice Kumai Bayang Aka’ahs (Chairman), Justice Emmanuel Garba, Justice Ambrose D. Mammadi (rtd), Barr. Danuma D. Rindam, Prof. Rotgak I. Gofwen, Prof. Istifanus Zabadi, Hamidu Audu Esq and Emeka Okoro Esq.

Also listed as respondents 13th to 19th are the Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Inspector General of Police, Director General, State Security Service (SSS) and Commandant, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).

The applicants are praying for an order of interim injunction restraining the Commission of Inquiry and its members “from sitting to conduct/continuing to sit to conduct proceedings or taking any further step pursuant to the instrument constituting them pending the determination of the motion on notice.”

It is the contention of the applicants that the composition of the Commission of Inquiry and its name were skewed against the interest of the Tiv tribe and constituted a threat to their fundamental human rights.

The applicants are, in the substantive suit, praying the court for among others, order quashing the instrument setting up the commission, quashing its proceedings and restraining the Governor, the state government and the AG from receiving and acting on any report from the commission.

They noted that the unending crises between Jukun and Tiv tribes in Taraba State, to which many lives and property have been lost, resulted from the “resolve of the Jukun tribe to forcefully push out the Tiv people from Taraba State for political and other reasons.”

The applicants stated that not only is Governor Ishaku, who had allegedly worked against Tiv’s interest, is a Jukun man; key members of the Commission of Inquiry are from Jukun and allied tribes.

They noted that while Justice Garba is a Jukun from Kurmi Local Govt, Justice Mamadi and Prof Gofwen are from Bachama and Angas tribes, which both have root from the Kwararafa Kingdom like the Jukun.

The applicants alleged, in a supporting affidavit, that “the 1st respondent (Ishaku) has, through his many polices, shown open bias and discrimination against the Tiv people indigenous to, living in and travelling through Taraba State, including but not limited to actively and openly supporting genocide by the Jukun against the Tiv.”

They alleged that Ishaku has consistently aided the Jukun in their purported plan to “deliberately and forcefully push out the Tiv from Taraba State, enabling the Jukun to take over Tiv ancestral lands and then renaming Tiv towns and villages in Jukun language.

“At least 25 such towns and villages have suffered this fate, the most prominent of which was the renaming “Dan’ Anacha” Town/Village as “Kwararafa” Town/Village to reflect Jukun’s allegiance to an old, defunct and spent Kingdom.

“The said Commission of Inquiry (4th-12th respondents herein), in its prejudiced and biased name and terms of reference against the Tiv race, is a continuation of the genocidal and discriminatory activities of the 1st respondent against the Tiv race or tribe.

“The 1st respondent has spurned all efforts made by the Benue and Nasarawa state governments to either set up a Joint Commission of Inquiry; or to ask the Federal Government to set up a Central Commission of Inquiry; or to enforce previous reports aimed at bringing lasting peace among the indigenous people of Taraba State; or to take any step whatsoever to end the crisis.

“The 1st-3rd respondents are the financiers of the 4th-12th respondents; hence, owing to the biased naming of the Commission of Inquiry/terms of reference thereof, coupled with the antecedents of the 1st respondent, we the applicants are genuinely afraid of likelihood of bias against us the applicants and our tribesmen.

“The 13th to 19th (the security chiefs) respondents have also been aiding the 1st respondent to push out the Tiv people from Taraba State as seen in the pictures/comments on Facebook.”

The applicants stated that members of the Commission of Inquiry were sitting at the Hope Afresh Foundation Conference Hall, “a property owned by the 1st respondent, wherein his wife is running a pet project known as the “Hope Afresh Foundation.”

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