PDP Governors Back Yar'Adua Against Jang In Nigeria

Published on Tuesday 13th January 2009

IN an unfolding politicisation of the aftermath of the Jos mayhem, governors elected on the platform of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) have taken sides with the Federal Government, and tongue-lashed their Plateau State colleague, Jonah Jang, for taking a confrontational stand against the Federal Government.

This is happening just as the 26 suspected mercenaries arrested in Plateau State have been transferred to the Force Criminal Investigation Department, Abuja, on "orders from above", while the Plateau State House of Assembly yesterday constituted its own ad-hoc committee to investigate the crisis which engulfed the state capital, recently.

At a meeting held Monday night at the Kwara State Governors' Lodge in Asokoro, Abuja, the Governors of the PDP-controlled states engaged their Plateau colleague in a verbal exercise, telling him that it was wrong for him in the first place to have adopted a confrontational posture against President Umaru Yar'Adua who is the leader of the party that produced him as governor.

Unusually, the outcome of the meeting was not made known to journalists by the Kwara State governor and Chairman of the Governors' Forum, Dr. Bukola Saraki who had always read communiques or briefed newsmen.

But in a chat with newsmen after the meeting, Dr. Saraki who simply described it as a family meeting where they only came to brainstorm on some issues, disclosed that an enlarged body of the Governors' Forum would meet on January 26 to discuss the outcome of Monday's meeting.

A source at the meeting said: "This is an in-house affair, and therefore, we have to tell ourselves the home truth. Consider the number of people that died in the crisis in Plateau State when Joshua Dariye was governor and this, yet former President Olusegun Obasanjo went ahead to impose a state of emergency.

"If we take the number of casualties as a yardstick for the imposition of the state of emergency, then President Yar'Adua could have done that. So we told our colleague that his approach toward the resolution of this crisis is wrong. Everyone of us told him the home truth," he said.

According to one of the governors who attended the meeting, "he did not accept that he was wrong. He still insisted that he was on the right track.

"Governor Jang insisted that he is constitutionally empowered to set up the probe panel to unravel the cause of the crisis. He insists that it was constitutionally wrong for the President to set up the General Emmanuel Abisoye Panel.

"He said the wife of the President and the Chief of Army Staff and others from the Presidency that visited Jos North did not come to see him to at least hear from the government what happened.

"Governor Jang also accused us, his colleagues, of taking sides with the federal government. He accused us of escalating the crisis. In the spirit of oneness, we agreed to meet the President to resolve this crisis once and for all.

It is our collective resolve to meet the President and let's resolve it in a family affair manner."

In attendance were the governors of Delta, Benue, Cross River, Kwara, Akwa Ibom, Kaduna, Rivers, Bayelsa, Oyo, Zamfara; Taraba, Plateau, Nasarawa and Kogi states. Others present were the Deputy governors of Osun and Ogun States.

It was observed that at the end of the meeting that while the other governors came out smiling and were paired, the embattled Plateau State governor came out alone and was not looking too happy. Governors of Bayelsa and Delta States drove out of the premises in the same car.

26 mercenaries moved to Abuja

The case of the 26 suspected mercenaries arrested in Plateau State which has generated contrasting positions from various quarters have been transferred to the Force Criminal Investigation Department, Abuja on "orders from above."

The suspects were moved to Abuja Monday to enable the Force CID investigate the matter in view of the different claims concerning the identity of the suspects.

They were arrested in the state with arms and ammunition and other dangerous weapons, among others during the curfew hours and were subsequently paraded before newsmen.

But shortly after, the Chairman of Okene Local Government Area of Kogi State came up to say the suspects were members of a vigilance group assisting the council to maintain security, a claim later dismissed by the state government.

However, the Kogi State Police Commissioner later confirmed that the suspects were known to him as members of a vigilance group which had assisted to maintain security in the state. He followed this up with a letter to his Plateau State counterpart, Mr. Gregory Anyatin identifying the suspects as members of the said vigilance group.

Anyatin confirmed the receipt of the letter to newsmen on Tuesday through the Command's spokesman, Mohammed Lerama.

He also confirmed the directive to transfer the case to Force CID adding that the command had complied by taking the suspects to Abuja.

Also confirming the development, Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Mr. Femi Oyeleye said "the 26 suspected mercenaries have been taken to Abuja. The case had to be taken to Abuja because it involves three states - Plateau, Bauchi and Kogi."

According to him: "The 26 suspects, the exhibits and their case files have all been transferred to Abuja since Monday. We handed over the case to the Force Headquarters which is the umbrella body with such jurisdictions to investigate the case."

Plateau Assembly sets up own probe panel

Meantime, the Plateau State House of Assembly yesterday set up its own ad-hoc committee to investigate the crisis.

The committee has seven members, with the Clerk of the House, Mrs. Helen Chundusu, serving as Secretary, and like other committees and panels so far set up at different levels, investigate the remote causes of the unrest as it relates to the local government elections held in the state in November last year.

The Speaker, Mr. Emmanuel Go'ar said the house was setting up the committee in line with Section 4 of the constitution.

"The House cannot be unconcerned about the crisis in the wake of the local government elections and the claim that the crisis erupted as a result of the conduct of the said elections. It is in the light of this that the Hon. House sees the need to conduct investigation into the crisis with a view to correcting any defect in the local government electoral law if any.

"Let me make it clear to all and sundry that the investigation by the Ad-Hoc Committee of the House is not in addition to other bodies already put in place such as the Judicial Commission of Inquiry and the Local Government Elections Petition Tribunal.

"By Section 128 of the 1999 Constitution, the House has the power to direct or cause to be directed an inquiry or investigation into any matter or thing with respect to which it has power to make laws, with a view to correcting any defects in existing laws, among others."

The committee is to be chaired by Mrs. Joyce Ramnap with Messrs Joe Dawan, John Clark, Dio Lamman, Mohammed Adamu, Michael Jibrin and Istifanus Mwansat as members.

One of the issues raised in the suit filed at the Federal High Court, Jos by the Plateau State Government on Monday is that it is only the state House of Assembly and not the National Assembly that had the constitutional responsibility or investigating any matter within the state or any of its local government areas.


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