Jos crisis: Fed Govt insists on Abisoye Panel
The government urged the governor to embrace dialogue on the issue, saying he has no case.
The position of the government was made known by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mike Aondoakaa(SAN).
Aondoakaa, who spoke exclusively with The Nation, said the Gen. Emmanuel Abisoye panel is not a judicial commission of inquiry as alleged by Jang.
He said: "The Federal Government is aware that the setting up of a Commission of Enquiry is a matter of residual act now since the coming into effect of the 1999 Constitution. With the decision of the Supreme Court in Gani Fawehinmi Vs the FG, the government is quite aware of it.
"So, we could not have just got up deliberately to flout the law. But, without even coming for dialogue, the Plateau State Government went to court. If I were in their position, I would have demanded to have a copy officially of the terms of reference of the Federal Government’s panel. They just moved into action.
"To me, the suit itself (The President and I are defendants) was filed on the basis of newspapers’ cuttings. I don’t think any suit should be based on newspapers’ cuttings. We are going to raise an objection that they have no case. The case is baseless.
"They have served me and I would respond within the statutory period allowed by law to file that there is no case.
"We didn’t do what they are alleging or alluding to; that’s not what we did. We constituted a panel to investigate some critical areas, not Commission of Enquiry. I think they were being hasty in their conclusions."
Asked to expatiate, the Minister added: "On the Federal Government’s panel, they (Plateau Government) went to court but I think their action was premature.
"They would have, at least, waited to see what the panel was about. What the Federal Government did was a panel of investigations, which is not an Administrative Commission of Enquiry.
"But what came out in the paper was the coining of the newspapers, not really what the Federal Government meant."
Aondoakaa said it was necessary for the Federal Government to investigate the crisis because of the security breach.
He said: "You see cases of foreigners involved. This is clearly something that is outside the control of a state. The issue of inflow of foreigners into the country is a matter that touches on immigration and the Federal Government has a right to investigate how these foreigners were able to beat through our immigration system and were able to get involved in Jos crisis.
"Of course, the overall impact of the crisis is on national security. That is what the FG’s panel has to look at. The kind of thing that happened in Jos, what will be the effect on national security.
"The Federal Government has to investigate to know what they can do to make sure that such a thing does not occur in any part of the country again.
"Of course, you saw the use of a lot of ammunition during the crisis. How did these ammunition get to that place? Arms and ammunition are matters within the control of the Federal Government. That is essentially what the Federal Government was worried about.
"How did it happen? It has happened in the Niger Delta, it is happening in Jos. We want to know how weapons get into the hands of people and then a small political quarrel would degenerate into a situation where weapons are freely used. This is the essential ingredient of the FG’s panel of investigation."
Responding to a question, the Minister said: "Under the Police Act, the Federal Government can be empowered to investigate anything. This is different from an Administrative Commission of Enquiry or a Judicial Commission of Enquiry."
Asked why Governor Jang was not consulted, he said: "How can the governor say that? The President has always been in touch with him.
"It was at his request that the troops were sent. So, how could he turn around to say such a thing? People who govern should have some level of integrity in what they say.
"First, troops cannot be deployed in any part of the country, except the governor of that state requests for it. The President responded swiftly within the request made by the governor.
"There has been constant dialogue between the President and the governor. So, whatever the case, the window of dialogue is still there.
"I still expect that the governor should have wisdom and go for dialogue. If you see the way the matter is being politicised by opportunists, it is not good. I would appeal to the governor to see this window of dialogue, to close ranks so that we can maintain security in that peaceful city and restore it into normalcy and ensure that such a thing does not re-occur.
"I think the way the President runs his government; he attaches a lot of importance to dialogue with governors on matters that border on security.
"The President has been able to do everything within the powers of the FG to assist and minimise breach of security in that place."