Representatives of the Tiv Cultural and Social Association (TCSA) have said they will not participate in the Taraba state commission of inquiry set up by the governor, Darius Ishiaku.
In a letter addressed to the governor byHon. David Mtwuem, Hon. Stephen Ikyaa, Mr. Terer Nenshi, Mr. Hon. Abako Shija, Pastor on whose behalf and instructions the letter said the content of the inquiry were lopsided against the Tiv.
Your Excellency will recall that by an Instrument dated the 13th July, 2020, a Commission of Inquiry into the Crises between Tiv and their Neighbouring Communities in Taraba State was constituted by Your Excellency.
The terms of reference of the Commission of Inquiry is re-produced hereunder for ease of reference:
- To examine the remote and immediate causes of the crises between the Tiv and people living in communities of Wukari, Takum, Donga, Ibi, Ussa, Gassol and Bali Local Government Areas or any other part of or in any other location within Taraba State from 1991 to date.
- To examine and identify cases of banditry, Kidnapping and other vices related to or arising from within the border communities and their relationship with the crises, if any.
- To identify basic issues and causes of prolonged and perennial crises between these communities and advice on the strategies for securing lasting peace.
- To identify individuals or groups that might have contributed or instigated the crises and recommend appropriate sanctions where necessary.
- To identify the Communities affected and the impact of damage caused including lives and property lost;
- To examine the roles State and Local Governments and other Institutions and or extant instruments or policy played to abate or facilitate the crises and recommend appropriate measures to be taken by Government to forestall future occurrence of the disturbances,
- To assess the efficacy of the existing security arrangements in communities within Taraba State and advise on improvement where necessary.
- To examine any other issue(s) which may secure lasting peace between the Tiv communities and their neighbours, and to recommend ways of effective reconciliation.
- To make any other or further recommendations that will effectively stem the crises in Taraba State. Your Excellency is further reminded that, membership of the Commission of Inquiry is composed of the following personalities.
- Hon. Justice Kumai Bayang Aka’ahs, JSC (Rtd) – Chairman
- Hon. Justice Emmanuel Garba
- Hon. Justice Ambrose D. Mammadi (Rtd)
- Barr. Danjuma D. Rindam
- Prof. Rotgak I. Gofwen
- Prof. Istifanus Zabadi
- Hamidu Audu, Esq.
- Emeka Okoro, Esq ——– Commission’s Secretary
Our Clients note with dismay that, the subject matter of inquiry as presented constitutes an indictment against the entire Tiv People. It portrays the law abiding and peace loving Tiv people as hostile and truculent. Worse still, the said neighbours are not named in the instrument setting up the Commission.
Continueing, the Tivdrew the governor attention to the fact that crises must be between a named and identified person or persons. Crises can also be between community and another community or in case of a tribe, between a particular tribe and another tribe or tribes.
They expressed surprises that while the Tiv tribe was specifically mentioned, no other tribe against whom the Tiv are engage in the crises has been mentioned in the Instrument. Worst still, none of the said communities in the Local Government Areas specified has also been mentioned.
It is not in doubt that there are several communities in the 7 Local Government Areas specified in the Instrument and the Tiv people are indigenous natives of these communities that are contiguous and are not border communities as specified in the terms of reference.
In light of the above,we cannot participate in the Commission as we do not know which communities in the 7 Local Government Areas we must prepare to meet at the commission due to the amorphous and nebulous nature of the terms of reference.
The Tiv noted that it is clear that the Instrument simply mentioned Tiv as a tribe without indicating whether they are indigenous Tiv of Taraba State or Tiv of any other state. We are not surprise because, the crises that occurred during the period mentioned in the terms of reference affected villages in Benue State. Namely: Chembe, Jootar, Gbeji, Mku, Demdem all in Ukum Local Government Area of the State and Sai in Katsina Ala Local Government Area of Benue State.
They are also conscious of the facts that the crises have also been attributed to border disputes between Benue State and Taraba State. On different occasions, the Government of Benue State has been involved in peace talk concerning these crises.
Furthermore, Security Agencies such as the military have been accused of complicity in the crises. In light of the involvement of the Military which is a security agency manned by the Federal Government and the fact that some of the villages affected are in Benue State, it is the humble position of our client that, the Taraba State Government cannot set up a Commission of Inquiry on crises that affect villages in Benue State.
It is our humble view that only the Federal Government can effectively set up Commission of Inquiry on an issue affecting two states. We also wish to draw your attention to the fact that between 1991 to date which is the period to be covered by the Commission of Inquiry, there have been several Commissions of Inquiry and Committees set up by the Federal Government and Taraba State Government.
These include; the Federal Commission of Inquiry headed by Vice President Augustus Aikhomu, Anthony Jelleson Committee of 1992, Justice Chukwu Opene Commission of Inquiry 2001, The Christian Reformed Church, Jalingo Resolution on Peace and Reconciliation between the Jukun and Tiv of Taraba State 2003, the ten man peace committee comprising five from Benue State and five from Taraba State setup by your government in June, 2019 and 30 Man Peace Committee set up by your administration in November, 2019 made up 15 Jukun and 15 Tiv.
All these Commissions and Committee presented their reports which have not been implemented by the Taraba State Government.
No reason has been adduced why the Taraba State Government has not implemented any of the reports.
Our clients therefore see the present Commission of Inquiry as a mere attempt to present the entire Tiv people in bad light and ridicule them in full glare of the entire world.
Furthermore, the 2nd term of reference borders on banditry, Kidnapping and other criminal vices. The Commission is expected to examine such cases which are criminal in nature.
The Nigerian Police Force is empowered by law to identify arrest, investigate and possibly prosecute all such cases.
Our clients are aware of some cases of Banditry, Kidnapping and other criminal vices, for instance, the case of Bala Hamisu (Wadume) of Ibi Local Government Area is standing trial for Kidnapping.
Our clients will therefore not be part of an inquiry into such criminal matters already pending before the court of law.
In view of the above reasons the Tiv informed decision to boycott the proceedings of the Commission of Inquiry.