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Tiv Community Petitions Taraba Gov Over New Chieftaincy Stools

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Taraba State Governor Darius Ishaku
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The Tiv Community in Taraba State has petitioned the State Governor, Arc Darius Ishaku over what it described as unfair treatment over the creation of new chieftaincy stools and the appointment of Traditional rulers.

Leaders of the community under the aegis of Ayatutu Cultural and Social Development Initiative(AYACASODI) accused the state government of supression of their rights as they claimed that Traditional Rulers were appointed by Government from other Tribes to preside over predominantly Tiv Communities especially in Takum and Donga LGAs of the state.

The Group spoke at a Press Conference in Jalingo, the State capital at the weekend. Below is the full text of the press conference:

A TEXT OF A PRESS CONFERENCE BY “AYATUTU CULTURAL AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE (AYACASODI) WORLDWIDE” ON THE CREATION AND APPOINTMENT OF DISTRICT HEADS IN CHANCHANJI CHIEFDOM IN TAKUM LGA, AND WETIBI AND SANGAMBE DISTRICTS IN DONGA LGA, TARABA STATE HELD ON SATURDAY, MAY 20, 2023 AT NUJ PRESS CENTRE, JALINGO

Gentlemen of the press, we call you here today to brief you and indeed the entire world on the grave injustice being meted on our people by His Excellency, Arc.

Darius Dickson Ishaku through the Gara of Chanchanji, Alhaji Tanimu Kumbera, the Gara of Donga HRH Ambassador Sanvala Shimbura, and the Government of Taraba State over the imposition of District Heads on Tiv-dominated areas in Takum and Donga Local Government Areas. 

2. Ayatutu Cultural and Social Development Initiative (AYACASODI) Worldwide as an organization, is duly incorporated with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) with the sole aim of promoting the culture, peace,  unity, development, and social values of the Tiv people worldwide. 

3. We are here today to condemn the injustice done to our people in the creation of Chiefdoms and Districts by the Governor Darius Ishaku-led administration and to call on the respective authorities involved to reconsider their decisions and ensure that the right thing is done in the interest of peace and development. 

4. As you may be aware, in 2018, Governor Darius Ishaku created and upgraded 54 chiefdoms in Taraba including the creation of Chanchanji Chiefdom which is predominantly Tiv but named after Jukun-Chamba name. We did not protest in public because we had also submitted a proposal for the creation of a Shitile chiefdom with headquarters at Peva. 

4. Chanchanji as a village has its small territory with a culture totally different from the Tiv culture who is in the majority. It is also on record that Chanchanji ward which is 98 per cent Tiv with over 38,000 registered voters has barely 2 per cent Jukun-Chamba population. 

5. It may interest you to know that since 2018, Governor Ishaku has further created chiefdoms and districts in almost every village and hamlet in Taraba State, but he did not deem it fit to create even one chiefdom for the Tiv people in the entire Taraba State, despite historical records that clearly favour a creation of Tiv Chiefdoms and districts. 

6. Apart from the submission of a proposal for the creation of a Shitile Chiefdom in Takum, our people in Donga LGA also submitted a proposal for the upgrade of the already created and gazetted Ugondo district to a Chiefdom with headquarters at Tor-Damisa. A similar proposal for the restoration of the Shitile district was also submitted. 

7. It is worthy of note that the Shitile village area was created on the 1st of May 1961 and approved on 6th January, 1962, alongside four other village areas of Ugondo, Gidin Dutse, Gayama, and Suntai. 

The Barde administration in 1981 also made use of these units in creating LGAs and districts in the defunct Gongola State. 

8. But while we were waiting for the Governor’s action on our request, Governor Ishaku suddenly approved the creation and installation of Wetibi district in the place of Shitile district and Samgambe district in the place of the already created and gazetted Ugondo district. This is a clear case of neo-colonialism in the 21st century. 

9. The Shitile district with its headquarters at Ananum and Ugondo district now renamed Samgambe are predominantly Tiv with a 99 percent Tiv population. 

10. In Takum LGA, just two weeks ago, the Gara of Chanchanji appointed, coronated, and imposed Chamba district heads on the people of Mbajir and Mbatyula clans under the Chanchanji district and the Mberev and Kwan-Mbayongo clans under Tse-Amadu Districts.

11. Gentlemen of the press, it may interest you to know that, over 98 percent of the population of both Chanchanji and Tse-Amadu Districts are predominantly Tiv people. The Chanchanji district is made up of majorly the Mbatyula and Mbajir Clans of Shitile, with few Chamba and Hausa; The Tse-Amadu District is made up of majorly the Mberev and Kwan-Mbayongo clans.

12. In all fairness, what is the justification for the appointment of Chamba people as District Heads of Chanchanji and Tse-Amadu? What does the government of Taraba State, Governor Darius Ishaku, and the Gara of Chanchanji want to achieve by this act? What were the criteria that were used in such appointments?

13. It is instructive to note that Tiv’s existence in those communities predates Nigeria’s Independence and there are historical and archival documents to back up this fact. 

14. It is extremely strange as the Darius Ishaku’s administration has abysmally distorted both the pre-colonial and colonial historic records which are visible in national archives. Recall that this same Taraba State Government under Arc. Darius Ishaku had in the past, changed the name of Dan-Anacha in Gassol LGA to Kwararafa and created a Chiefdom, and imposed a non-Tiv person as the Head, whereas the chiefdom is predominantly Tiv People. 

15. This injustice and maltreatment of the Tiv people of this area is a joke taken too far. This act of slavery in this 21st century should be totally condemned by all peace-loving and well-meaning individuals. It is clear that the objective behind this act by Governor Ishaku by changing the names of Tiv communities in Taraba and appointments of non-Tiv as traditional heads is to permanently erase Tiv identity, occupy Tiv land, and enslave our people in this 21st century.  This cannot happen and we reject it in its entirety. 

16. We hereby call on Gov. Darius Ishaku, the Taraba State Government, the Gara of Chanchanji, Alhaji Tanimu Kumbera, and the Gara of Donga HRH Ambassador Sanvala Shimbura to immediately reverse the appointments of the District Heads in Chanchanji, Shitile District (now Wetibi), Ugondo district (now Samgambe) and Dan-Anacha chiefdom (now Kwararafa), and appoint Tiv Sons who are the rightful people to be appointed as District Heads for the sake of peace, equity, justice, and fairness.

17. Our culture and that of Chamba are not the same and we can not be subjected to a foreign culture. Our simplicity should not be taken for cowardice. We can not allow this stand, because we can not afford to bequeath a slavery legacy to our children and the future generation. 

18. We call on our people to remain calm and law-abiding as we are sure that Governor Ishaku will reverse these creation and appointments immediately. But if he fails to do so within three days from today, we would be compelled to seek legal redress in a court of law.

19. In conclusion, we humbly call on all peace-loving individuals or groups of people from Taraba State and Nigeria at large, to rise and condemn this neo-colonialism in the 21st century by Governor Darius Ishaku, because injustice to one is injustice to all. 

Signed by: Chief Timothy Baaki(National President)& Comr. David Nyiagee(National Secretary) AYACASODI Worldwide

NEWS

Constitutional Amendment Crucial for Efficient Implementation of LG Autonomy – Lawyer

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An Umuahia-based Legal Practitioner, Mr Chuwkuemeka Nwachukwu, has said that the 1999 Constitution must be amended to allow for effective implementation of the Supreme Court judgment on Local Government (LG) autonomy.

Nwachukwu said this in an interview in Umuahia on Friday.

He said that the 1999 Constitution as amended “has a lot of loopholes”, which must be critically addressed before the LG Autonomy Act and judgment of the nation’s apex court could be effectively enforced.

He, therefore, called for an Executive Bill from the Presidency for the immediate amendment to take care of “the lacuna in the Constitution that has been pointed out over the years”.

Nwachukwu said that failure to do so could undermine the import of the landmark Supreme Court judgment of Thursday on LG autonomy.

He said that clear legal frameworks were essential for effective governance and implementation of judicial decisions.

According to him, this will help to ensure that LGs can operate as an autonomous third tier within defined legal boundaries, thereby enhancing local administration and accountability.

The legal practitioner also called on the Federal Government to set up a monitoring mechanism for checks and balances in the implementation of the judgment across the states of the federation.

Also reacting to the judgment, the immediate past Chairman, National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Abia chapter, Mr Ikechi Nwaigwe, said the Supreme Court’s decision had nothing to cheer about yet.

Nwaigwe said that until every process was put in place to realise the desired LG autonomy, Nigerians should not think it is yet Uhuru.

He argued that desperate Nigerian politicians would always work against the wishes of the people with all their might.

“I am not yet excited by the decision of the Supreme Court, which affirmed the financial autonomy of the LG system.

“It is a good development but we have not reached our El dorado on the issue of LG autonomy.

“I said so because I know Nigerian politicians are desperate and can work so hard to upturn the process of achieving complete autonomy because it will be for the good of the Nigerian people.

“I will be excited if President Bola Tinubu will ensure that the process is completed with necessary legislation passed and proper implementation begun,” he said.

Nwaigwe said that the process of getting proper autonomy should not overlook the process of who becomes LG chairman and persons who might be godfathers to them.

“The process of reaching the desired destination should also ensure the Independent National Electoral Commission conducts the elections to promote competition among parties.

“If the State Governments, through their State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs), conduct the elections, the judgment will not achieve the desired goal.

“The state governors will still manipulate the SIECs and the elections,” he said.

In Imo, the state Chairman of NULGE, Mr Charles Okere, said that the LG autonomy would help to promote the welfare of council woŕkers.

Okere, who hailed the judgment, said it would facilitate projects execution according to the peculiar needs of the people at the grassroots.

“The judgment is a welcome development even though it only guarantees financial autonomy because the councils’ administrative responsibility still rests with the State Assemblies,” he said. (NAN)

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Foreign News

ECOWAS Court Nullifies ECOWAS Commission Staff’s Dismissal

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The ECOWAS Court of Justice has nullified the dismissal of Mr Momodu Cham, a former staff of the Commission, saying it breached Article 69 of the ECOWAS staff regulations.

Cham had filed the suit following his dismissal from his position as a Procurement Officer with the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing (GIABA), a specialised ECOWAS agency.

The applicant, a community citizen residing in Banjul, Gambia, had joined the Economic Commission for West African States (ECOWAS) and its President, as first and second Respondents, respectively, in the suit challenging his sack.

Delivering judgment, Justice Dupe Atoki, the Judge Rapporteur, held that the cessation of Cham’s salary by the Commission before the exhaustion of the appeal process was arbitrary, unlawful, null, and void.

According to Justice Atoki, the action of the Commission is contrary to Article 73(b) of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

The Court, therefore, ordered the Respondents to pay Cham his salary arrears and other entitlements from January 2021 to June 2021, as compensation.

It further ordered the Commission to pay Mr Cham’s salaries and emoluments from July to December 2021 as compensation for the unlawful dismissal.

“Requesting an on-the-spot response to charges without prior notice or an opportunity to prepare a defense violates procedural safeguards outlined in the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

“The regulations are designed to ensure an Applicant’s rights are fully maintained until the Council’s final decision.

“Consequently, the summary dismissal of the Applicant by the 2nd Respondent breached Article 69 of the regulation.

“Therefore, the cessation of the Applicant’s salary and other emoluments after invoking the right of appeal is a violation of Article 73(b) of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations,” Justice Atoki held.

The Court, however, declined to grant any orders for mandatory injunctions against the Commission and reinstatement of the applicant .

The Applicant had contended at the trial that he was suspended on July 11, 2019, following a forensic audit report by Ernst and Young UK, which implicated him in irregularities related to the purchase of IT equipment for GIABA.

He said that on Jan. 26, 2021, he was summarily dismissed, and his salaries and emoluments were withheld in violation of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

Cham had prayed the court to grant him several reliefs, including a declaration that his dismissal was arbitrary, null, and void.

He also sought an order setting aside his dismissal and the immediate payment of his salary arrears and other entitlements from January 2021.

The applicant had also prayed for his reinstatement to his position as a Procurement Officer and compensation for costs incurred in prosecuting the suit.

The Respondents, in their defense, had however, maintained that the applicant was properly suspended and later dismissed following a forensic audit report and a subsequent query.

They had also argued that the dismissal was appropriate due to the allegations of gross misconduct, embezzlement, theft, fraud, and abuse of trust.

The three-member panel also had Justices Gberi-bè Ouattara, presiding, and  Sengu Mohamed Koroma, as a member.(NAN)

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NEWS

Gunmen Abducts Acting Rector Benue Polytechnic, Demand N70m Ransom 

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From Attah Ede Makurdi 

Acting Rector, Benue State Polytechnic Ugbokolo, Engr. Dr. Emmanuel Barki has been abducted by gunmen suspected to be kidnappers.

He was kidnapped while returning from Makurdi to Ugbokolo after official assignment that took place in the State capital, Wednesday.

It was gathered that the Acting Rector was kidnapped along side with some management staff of the polytechnic and his driver.

It was further gathered that the abductors moved them away from the highway and reportedly abandoned the official vehicle of the polytechnic.

A source who disclosed this to newsmen in Makurdi on Friday, on condition of anonymity, said the abductors called the family of the Acting Rector and demanded for N70m as ransom after 24 hours that he was kidnapped with his driver and other management staff of the Polytechnic.

Some since the incident happened, prominent individuals have been paying visit to the family of the Acting Rector to sympathize with them.

The immediate past Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Benue State chapter, Rev. Dr. Augustine Akpen Leva, condemned the dastardly act and prayed for the immediate release of the Acting Rector.

Dr. Leva particularly called on Governor Alia to improve on the security situation of the state to enable people and even the travellers go to places of their choice without been victims of kidnappers.

When contacted, the Benue State command police public relations officer SP Catherine Anene, confirmed the incident, saying investigation is ongoing. 

However, the special adviser to governor Alia on internal security, Chief Joseph Har also confirmed the abduction of the rector.

According to him, the Acting Rector was kidnapped three days ago.

He said he was not aware of any ransom negotiation, but that security personnel have been in the bush since then combing the bushes.

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