Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Ahmed Mohammed yesterday ordered the Governor of Taraba State, Mr. Darius Ishaku; 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 rocking the state.
They are to appear before the court on August 26, 2020, to show 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 on 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 proceedings further in its assignment over alleged bias.
The applicants, which are the Incorporated Trustees of Mzough U Tiv and five others, dragged the respondents to court over the constitution of the probe panel into the tribal clashes in Taraba State.
Other applicants are the President General, Mzough U Tiv, Mr. Ihiagh Iorbee; Hon. David Uchiv, Hon. Jacob Gbagede, Hon. Julius Kwaghkar and Dr. Yakubu Agbidye. In the exparte motion that was filed and argued on their behalf by their lawyers, which were led by Mr. Sebastine Hon, (SAN), the applicants who sued on behalf of themselves and the Tiv people, including those in Taraba State, prayed the court for an interim injunction restraining the 4th 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, namely the Chiefs of Defence, Army, Air and Naval Staffs, the Inspector General of Police, the Director General of the Department of State Service, the Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps “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 till the matter pending before the court is determined.
The exparte, which was predicated on 11 grounds, accused the governor the Taraba State 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 Tivs and their neighbours.
The applicants also noted that the composition of the panel would likely breach their fundamental rights of fair hearing.
They, therefore, urged the court to intervene as the panel was expected to commence sitting on August 17, and added 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 their fundamental rights and that of their tribesmen would continue to be breached unabated unless their application is granted,.
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 wanted the court to declare that the setting up of panel amounts to a flagrant breach of their fundamental rights as well as their tribesmen.
They claimed that the panel as presently constituted would breach their right to fair hearing and 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 persons should submit memoranda to them, as being vague, unconstitutional, null and void.
They also prayed for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st to 3rd 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.”