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Umaru Tanko Al-Makura
The on – going judicial commission of inquiry into the killing of security men in Alakio set up by Nasarawa State governor, UmaruTanko Al-Makura, has run into a hitch following the withdrawal of counsels representing the Eggon people from its proceedings.
The withdrawal notice was served on the commission yesterday by the lawyers who alleged that they “have been whimsically refused the right of cross-examination of presenters of memoranda despite the provisions contained in Chapters 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3 of the rules of procedure which the commission itself made to guide the conduct of proceedings”.
Addressing journalists in Lafia at a press briefing Wednesday, counsel representing Bassa Zarangi district, Aliyu Anze, in company of other legal practitioners representing the various Eggoncommunities, expressed dissatisfaction over the “gross bias” of the chairman in restricting counsels to the Eggon people from cross-examining persons who present memoranda which adversely affect the interest of their clients.
Anze observed that the commission had ordered counsels to file their memoranda of appearance to enable each party’s lawyer study and evaluate the submissions for purposes of cross examination, but lamented that counsels to the Eggons had been “refused access to the memoranda presented by Nasarawa State government, the Nigeria Police Force and the State Security Service.”
“These three memoranda are at the heart of this commission of inquiry having regard to the terms of reference of the judicial commission.Having circulated the memoranda presented by our clients, it confounds all reasoning why these memoranda could not be given to us,” the counsel stated.
He also complained of the chairman’s inability to hear and speakHausa language and his reliance on interpretation by other members of the panel who are of Hausa /Fulani origin, instead of making use of the commission’s interpreter.
“It is in the light of the foregoing that we have come to a painful but inevitable conclusion that further participation in the judicial commission of inquiry cannot in good conscience be justified. After repeated attempts to have the above anomalies rectified unsuccessfully, we have our clients’ instructions to withdraw further participation in the proceedings of the commission as to do otherwise will be to lend credence to a process that is programmed to achieve a predetermined end,” Anze said.
Another lawyer representing one of the Eggon communities, ZakariAlumaga, said that “there are indications that we are not likely to get justice from this commission from the beginning.”
“We thought the government instituted a commission that will be open so that we can clearly state our case, but now it is clear thatthecommission has been hired to indict some people. We are not bordered whatever the outward of this commission may be,” he said.
Alumaga regretted the manner in which Eggon communities are being treated and said the people had lost confidence in the commission’s ability to guarantee a fair hearing to all concerned.
There are indications that the Eggon communities may likely go to court to stop the commission of inquiry from further sittings
Meanwhile, the retired Justice Joseph Fola Gbadeyan – led Judicial commission of Inquiry could not sit on Wednesday following an attack on witnesses who were expected to testify before it on Tuesday.
The witnesses who were to represent the Miyetti Allah CattleRearers Socio-Cultural Association were ambushed late on Tuesday by unknown men.
One of the witnesses is lying critically ill at the Dalhatu ArafSpecialist Hospital in Lafia the Nasarawa State capital.