The Tiv ethnic group has withdrawn from the judicial commission of inquiry the Taraba state government set up to ascertain the remote and immediate causes of the lingering crisis between the Tiv and Jukun.
Earlier in the month, Darius Ishaku, governor of Taraba, established the panel as part of efforts to find solution to the recurring violence.
Through Sebastian Hon, their lead counsel, the Tiv said they were in doubt of the sincerity of the panel sitting in Jalingo, the state capital.
“We are withdrawing. We don’t have confidence in the commission because right from the instrument setting up the commission, to the terms of reference to the publication of terms of reference, the Tiv people have been profiled,” Hon said.
“The commission of inquiry is supposed to name all the parties and this named only the Tiv and their neighbors. So that is discriminatory, contrary to section 42 of the Constitution. It is also a ground, preparatory for violation of fundamental human rights of fair hearing of Tiv people.
“We raised this and the fact that the terms of reference also delved into criminality. We raised objections on all these and they overruled us. Section 2 sub 2 of commission of inquiry law of Taraba state says you must name all the parties. But only the Tiv people are named. What happens to the other parties?
“Again, we came to the court today they didn’t even list the people they named. They listed other memoranda for consideration. So from day 1 we are afraid, and genuinely so. So, we told them pointedly that we don’t have confidence in the composition of this panel. We also told them that there is a pending matter seeking to enforce the fundamental rights of the Tiv people at Abuja High Court. They are party to that matter and still went ahead and overruled us inspire of the pendency of that matter. So we don’t have confidence in the commission and we will not appearing again. We are not coming here again.”
Abdul Ibrahim, lead counsel to the Jukun group, expressed satisfaction with the withdrawal of the Tiv.
“We are here to ventilate our grievances so that lasting peace would be found between the Tiv and the Jukun. Some people have decided to step out. Fine. The fact that they are leaving does not mean we don’t have our own grievances and it is not at the whims and caprices of others for us to ventilate them,” he said in a statement.
At the inaugural sitting of the panel, Kumai Aklias, its chairman, said the commission will not to take side with any of the ethnic groups.
Aklias said the “essence of the commission is to see how we can find lasting peace to the incessant crisis that have bedevilled the state” was however not pleased with the decision of the Tiv to ceased from participating in the proceedings.