Taraba C.A.N. Writes Mr President: A Plea to Protect Innocent Civilians
Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN),
Federal Capital Territory,
AN URGENT PLEA TO ENSURE THAT THE NATIONAL C.A.N STANDS ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY AND TAKES DECISIVE ACTION TO PROTECT INNOCENT CIVILIANS IN TARABA STATE OF NIGERIA AND ENSURES THAT JUSTICE IS SEEN TO BE DONE.
It is not long ago that Nigeria experienced a smooth transition from one political party to the other where for the first time in Africa a sitting president peacefully conceded power to the opposition (APC) in line with the tenets of democracy. Today the ruling party (APC) has forgotten so soon the benefits she got from the respect of the rule of law as displayed by former President Good Luck Jonathan, and has embraced the path of impunity by colluding with judicial officers to rob electorates of their democratic mandates through election tribunals.
Recently the elections tribunal for Taraba state gave a very controversial verdict of sacking the democratically elected Governor on the account of non-compliance with the Electoral Act of Nigeria (see link to Electoral Act http://www.parliament.am/library/electoral%20law/nigeria.pdf).
Whereas the Electoral Act stipulates conduct of fresh elections in an event a candidate who scored the highest votes is disqualified, the tribunal went ahead to disqualify the sitting governor and declared the APC candidate as returned elected. This judicial rascalism clearly contravenes section 140, subsection 2of the Nigerian Electoral Act 2010 as amended which states;
“(2) where an election tribunal or court nullifies an election on the ground that the person who obtained the highest votes at the election was not qualified to contest the election, or that the election was marred by substantial irregularities or non-compliance with the provisions of this Act, the election tribunal or court shall not declare the person with the second highest votes or any other person as elected, but shall order for a fresh election.”
It is becoming increasingly clear that the Judiciary which is the last hope of the common man is beginning to cast doubtful shadows following events in recent times where a “ruling” was made without due consideration to prayers sought. The ruling puts a question mark as to whether it is possible to dispense justice dispassionately and in the general interest of the voter who is the grand arbiter that decides who should occupy a political office. The decision made by the tribunal will over many years be a referral point as to whether popular votes, technicalities or political control determine who becomes a governor, senator or even a local government chairman.
If this is the case, were there no INEC officials at the nomination? If not, who issued Darius a certificate of return? Who included Darius’ name in the ballot paper? Who finally gave him a certificate ascertaining his victory at the poll? Even so why did INEC go the full length of re-conducting election in some areas of the state to ascertain the winner? All these questions are begging for answers. From all indications certain interests are at work and from all indications these interests are not representatives of the people of Taraba state.
Another important aspect of the tribunal’s ruling that has raised eyebrows is the decision of the tribunal to enthrone Aisha Alhassan who clearly is not the winner of the election by any means, and is by no means constitutionally entrenched. the decision makes it difficult for the lovers of the law and its protectors to understand how the tribunal arrived at its verdict that Aisha Alhassan wears the mantle of leadership when she does not have the mandate of even a simple majority, let alone the stringent constitutional provision that she must have scored 25% in not less than two-thirds of the local governments that constitute the state.
You may be aware that Taraba state remains the only peaceful Northeast state in Nigeria despite the on-going unrest from the activities of Boko Haram in this region and we are afraid that the decision of the elections tribunal has created a dangerous tension between Christians and Muslims in the state due to its religious undertone. Consequently, report emerged about the incident of the violence which resulted in the death of 30 persons (see The Guardian online News of 9th November, 2015. http/allafrica.com/stories/201511091943.html).
We are not very comfortable with the security network of Taraba state since the decision of the tribunal. Shortly before the tribunal’s verdict on the said case, a lot of transfers of the State’s top security officers were made. Below is the security out-look (top echelons) in the Christian populated Taraba;
- AIG Zone 3 Yola (now death) Muslim
- CP Taraba Command Muslim
- DC Taraba Command Muslim
- SIB Taraba Command Muslim
- o/c SARS Taraba Command Muslim
- There are only three Area Commands in the State; Jalingo, Wukari and Gembu. Two of them; Jalingo and Wukari are Muslims.
- P.O Jalingo Muslim
- DSS/SSS – Boss Muslim
- Civil Defence I/C and Deputy Muslims
- Immigration Boss Muslim
- Custom and Exercise Boss Muslims
- Prison Boss Muslim
- NDLEA Boss Muslim
- INEC Comm./Boss Muslim
- Major Bello (NA) Task Force, Jalingo Muslim
The Taraba issue is a precarious one because it borders on political, social, ethical and even religious dimensions. All these factors are not only germane in Taraba state but neighbouring states and should therefore be handled with care. To avoid the escalation of conflicts in Taraba and communities beyond, a wholistic approach should be made to address the needs of the feuding parties in a way that would represent the good of the common man in the state and in Nigeria as a whole.
Rev. Dr. Ben Ubeh Rev. Fr James Vontih
Ag Chairman Secretary.
Taraba State C.A.N Taraba State C.A.N