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 ‘Why Tiv delegation withdrew from Taraba Commission of Inquiry’

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By John Austin Unachukwu

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Sebastine Hon, has explained why a Tiv delegation in Jalingo, Taraba State, withdrew from  the Commission of Inquiry set up by the Taraba State Government to look into the constant crises between the Tivs and their neighbours,

He alleged that there was the likelihood of bias and lack of transparency by the commission and the government.

At the commencement of sitting by the commission last week, Hon was lead counsel for the Tiv.

He made an oral application requesting  the commission to stay proceedings pending the determination of a suit on the matter before the Federal High Court, Abuja, which was objected to by the commission. Hon therefore  alleged the likelihood of bias by the commission and the Taraba State Government.

Hon said: “The Tiv people have been profiled, isolated and accentuated for destruction. Because a Commission of Inquiry is supposed to name the parties, they only named  the Tiv people and their neighbours. That is discriminatory, contrary to Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“It is also a ground preparatory towards  breaching the fundamental human right of  fair hearing of the Tiv people, the terms of reference of the commission also delved into criminality. We raised objection on all these, they  over ruled  us. “We pointedly told them that we don’t have confidence in the composition of the panel, again they also over ruled us.

“We also told them that there is a pending matter seeking to enforce the fundamental rights of the Tiv people at the Federal High Court Abuja and that they are parties to that matter.”

He said they still went ahead “and overruled us,  in spite of the pendency  of that matter, so we left them and will not be appearing here again. Section 2 ( 2) of the Commissions  of Inquiry Law  of Taraba State States that you must name all the parties in a dispute, they didn’t name all the parties, they named  only the Tiv people which means the Tiv people are the trouble makers.”

He said further: “The other people are unknown, that is not fair, even when we came here today, they didn’t list the people, they only named the Tiv people.

“So, from day one, we are afraid, we are genuinely afraid and will not be coming here, again. We are going to take some steps to make sure that we get justice for the Tiv people.

“I have never seen where a commission will name only one party and expect that party to be comfortable. We are not comfortable with this arrangement and will not subject ourselves to their jurisdiction.”

He said the matter was at the Federal High Court “and we take it up from there. We cannot subject  ourselves  to it because the ground for the abuse of the  Fundamental rights  of the Tiv people have been sufficiently laid,  even a blind  person will see that.

“Everybody wants peace; we want peace and, in doing that, we insist on due process, constitutionalism and the rule of law otherwise you have a peace of the grave yard.”

A  member of the 30-man legal team, led by Hon for Tiv people, Mr. Stephen Abar, stated that the ‘cockroach cannot find justice in the court of the chicken.’ Therefore, the Tivs cannot get justice from the flawed panel as presently constituted by the Taraba State Government.

“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.

Counsel to the Jukun Traditional Council and Wuakri Local Government Area, Mr. Abdul Ibrahim, said his clients were satisfied with the composition of the panel and would appear before it. He stated that his clients wanted peace and would continue to pursue it through legal means.

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