By Deyemi Saka
Governor Yahaya Inuwa of Gombe State who was represented at an event by the State’s finance commissioner Muhammad Magaji, pleaded with the governors of both Lagos and Rivers State to back down on their demand for state administration of Value Added Tax (VAT) across the country, warning that such policy could leave people of his state worse off. Speaking at the start of a Technical Workshop on the development of the state’s Medium-Term Sector Strategy (MTSS), Gov. Inuwa through his representative also appealed to the governments in the entire southern region to put “sentiments” aside and “be their brother’s keepers.
The statement credited to the Governor is enough to create a huge perception in anyone that the governor is one who values brotherhood, bond and unity, but taking a cursory look at his activities since he assumed office, it reveals a very divisive man who is not living in harmony with his brothers in his state.
The first of the two instances I shall bring to fore is the controversy which trailed the appointment of a Mai Tangle when the stool became vacant after the demise of the former occupant of the throne, HRH Abdu Buba Maisheru II died and was buried on the 11th of January 2021.
In a bid to fill the vacant stool, members of the ruling houses indicated interest and at the end of the day, 18 contestants emerged but the State government postponed the election process ostensibly to enable the Governor sign the Chieftaincy Law of Gombe State into law which was passed a long time ago but was not assented to until the death of Mai Abdu. It is on record that on February 15, 2021, the Tangle Kingmakers made up of nine people met and a selection was conducted on the 18 candidates that indicated interest out of which three people recorded votes. At the end of the process which was supervised by the kingmakers, Dr. Musa Idris Maiyamba secured 5 votes, Danladi 2 votes and Ahmed 2 votes.
Curiously, when it was time for the State Government to announce the successor to the throne in line with extant law, Danladi with “2 votes” was announced and this plunged the state into crisis. The Government quickly placed a curfew in an attempt to restore law and order. The curfew was so long that it prompted the Tangale Community Development Association (TCDA) to call on the State Government to lift the curfew imposed on Billiri Local Government Area of the state when it was the fourth month.
TCDA also claimed that with the curfew in place, “our men and women are being kidnapped at night”. This was disclosed by Daniel Maddo, member Board of Trustee of TCDA, flanked by other officials of the association during a Press Briefing with journalists in Jos, the Plateau State Capital. The group reinforced the rejection of the choice of the Governor by insisting Danladi Mai Shanu is not the Mai Tangale. At the press conference, Daniel Maddo further stated that “sadly, under this curfew, our men and women are being kidnapped at night”, the group decried.
“We urged the government to always use legitimate and lawful security agencies to maintain law and order within Gombe State and avoid using ‘Yan Kalare’, hunters and other illegal vigilante groups”.
The second instance is his refusal to nominate Justice Beatrice Lazarus Iliya as the Chief Judge of the state in a brazen disregard to the established norms and seniority until recently when Governor Inuwa tried to circumvent the process.
Governor Inuwa Yahaya appointed Justice Beatrice Iliya as Acting Chief Judge of the State for three months and rather than use the period to review and ratify her appointment as Chief Judge of the State, at the expiration of her tenure as Acting Chief Judge, the Governor appointed Justice Muazu Pindiga in acting capacity on December 4, 2019, and was renewed on March 4, 2020 in a total breach of section 271 subsection 5 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria(as amended).
It is on record that “In its meeting of August 21, 2019, and by a letter ref. No. JSC/GMS/S/ADM/21/270 dated September 2, 2019, the Gombe Judicial Service Commission (JSC) shortlisted and forwarded the name of Justice Beatrice Lazarus Iliya as its preferred candidate and that of Justice Muazu Pindiga as a reserved candidate to the National Judicial Council for recommendation to the governor.
It is noteworthy to state that section 270, subsection “4” and “5” of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) also favours the appointment of Justice Illiya as the CJ of Gombe State. It states and I quote;
(4) If the office of Chief Judge of a State is vacant or if the person holding the office is for any person unable to perform the functions of the office, then until a person has been appointed to and has assumed the functions of that office, or until the person holding the office has resumed those functions, the Governor of the State shall appoint the most senior Judge of the High Court to perform those functions. (5) Except on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council an appointment pursuant to subsection (4) of this section shall cease to have effect after expiration of three months from the date of such appointment and the Governor shall not re-appoint a person whose appointment has lapsed.
It must also be stated that Rule 26 Sub Rule Two, of the Rule of Professional Ethics (legal provisions) provides that there is seniority at the Bar.
One must point out the complicity of the Chief Justice of Nigeria who has been granting extension of tenure for Justice Muazu Pindiga as Acting Chief Judge of Gombe State in the face of outcry by the Nigerian Bar Association and the recommendation of the National Judicial Council which directed the Judicial Service Commission of Gombe State to do the appropriate thing by including the name of Justice Beatrice Lazarus Iliya which is never included in the list of shortlisted candidates for the position. It must also be stated that Justice Muazu Pindiga is in his 5th term as Ag.CJ of Gombe state.
One thing is constant in the two instances I highlighted. The two victims of Gov. Inuwa’s injustice are Christians and Justice Beatrice Iliya’s experience validates the allegation of gender bias.
It is bewildering that a man who does not love his brothers in his State is searching for brotherhood from strangers in lands so far from him. It only reveals the desperation in man who is bereft of ideas on how to keep the state solvent in the face of the new tax regime. A man with a commercialized brotherhood.
Lambert and Curtis