Inuwa Who Blocked Justice Beatrice Iliya From Becoming CJ Says Gombe Judiciary Has Financial Autonomy

The Oasis Reporters

December 30, 2021

Governor Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State.

Gombe state Governor Inuwa Yahaya has stated that he has granted financial autonomy to the judiciary and legislature to enable them operate as independent arms of government and discharge their constitutional mandates diligently.

He stated this Wednesday during the occasion of the commencement of the 2021/2022 legal year held at the state high court complex.

The governor said with his recent assent to the law granting judiciary and legislature financial autonomy, the two arms of government now have unhindered access to their funds and utilize them accordingly without restriction and inference by the state government.

“In our determination to ensure an independent judiciary and legislature and in line with the principle of separation of powers, I recently assented to the law granting financial autonomy of the judiciary and legislative arms of government in the state.

“We are also mindful of the necessary financial requirements of the judiciary. I am constrained to point out, however, that governments at all levels are forced to drastically cut down expenditure as a result of the global economic crisis occasioned by the covid-19 pandemic.

“That notwithstanding, I want to assure my lords that our administration is fully committed to meeting the demands of the judiciary. It is against this backdrop that the government considered the demands of the Judiciary Staff Union (JUSUN) which resulted in the mutual agreement that brought to an end the recent strike action embarked upon by the Union”, he said.

While reiterating the commitment of his administration to ensuring a strong and independent judiciary, Yahaya pledged that the state government would sponsor the training of judges and other judiciary staff in order to facilitate fair and speedy dispensation of justice in the state.

In his speech, the acting Chief Judge of state Justice Muazu Pindiga lauded the state government for its support to the judiciary and tasked judges on professionalism, fairness and honesty

In March 2020, a petition written by Benjamin Dangoma Tanglang
was published accusing Governor Inuwa of ensuring that Justice Beatrice Iliya was blocked from emerging as Gombe state Chief Judge because the governor neither wanted a woman or Christian to become Chief Judge of the north eastern state.

The petitioner wrote that he was “constrained to write you this open letter for two reasons: one is for the world to know what is happening to the ethnic nationalities in Gombe. Secondly, a closed letter may get to your table but will not be given the deserving attention at all.

Sir, you will recall that sometime around September 4th of 2019, you swore in Justice Beatrice Lazarus Iliya as the acting Chief Judge (CJ) of Gombe State for the stated period of three (3) months. Sources close to your good office confirmed that she made spirited but futile efforts to guide the executive arm on how to go about seeking for an extension as provided for in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Your decision, not to extend her acting period was assumed to be in good faith because it was not a violation of any law. On the other hand, rationality only suggested that it is a precedence you have set and by so doing, another Judge who is next in seniority would emerge as Acting Chief Judge, until a substantive Chief Judge is appointed.

In line with the above, you thereby appointed and swore in Justice Abdulkadir Muazu Pindiga on the 4th day of December 2019, under the stereotyped guise of Constitutionality. You posted on your official twitter handle @governorInuwa that:
“It is my honor to swear in Justice Muazu Pindiga as the acting Chief Judge of Gombe state. The appointment is in line with the constitution, following the expiration of the acting capacity of Justice Beatrice Lazarus Iliya. I thank her for her service and wish the new Acting CJ success”. (7:44 pm 04-12-19)

I thought that your Attorney General who should have an in depth understanding of law and the constitution would advise you correctly on this matter.

Your exhibited inconsistencies and prevarication on this matter, reveals the insincerity of your action and inaction.
Information from your associates, suggests that your refusal to extend the tenure of Justice Beatrice was guided by the following;

A spurious petition written to you by one Alhaji Ahmed Abubakar Garba, (a grain merchant) dated 27th September, 2019 complaining that the Acting Chief Judge had moved to the office of the Chief Judge even before her confirmation;

Like Justice Beatrice, the erstwhile Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Hakila Y. Heman is not of Hausa Fulani extraction, and from Gombe South Senatorial District who had spent 20 years as the Chief Judge of Gombe State and therefore you needed a Hausa Fulani from another Zone to occupy the office.

That Justice Beatrice is a woman whom many consider to have an independent mindset and therefore may not be easy to influence negatively;

That Justice Beatrice is an inlaw to the immediate past deputy Governor of Gombe State, Honourable Charles Iliya who is a PDP member.

Sir, permit me to posit that if your grudge against the length of time that a Gombe South person has occupied the seat of Chief Judge is true, then you need to be reminded that the NO. 1 seat of Governor that you occupy has never been enjoyed by anyone from Gombe South and so is the office of Speaker Gombe State House of Assembly.

Unlike other positions, the Office of the Chief Judge is not allocated based on zoning, rotation or election but by qualification exclusively for the most qualified.

Sir, I find it really shocking that at your level, you could decide to act on a petition written to your office against Justice Beatrice without first giving her fair hearing on the rationale of her action.

Ironically, you ignored the petitions copied to your office, dated 30th December 2019 and the subsequent one dated 26th February, 2020 against the person of Justice Pindiga simply because he suits the kind of person you envisioned as your choice Chief Judge.

Sir your Attorney General and your chief press secretary have argued strenuously and cried to the high heavens that extending the Acting capacity of Justice Beatrice was unconstitutional and therefore not tenable, thereby paving way for the swearing in of Justice Pindiga. Surprisingly, prior to the expiration of his acting capacity, you wrote to the National Judicial Council (NJC) on the 20th day of February 2020, in a letter titled: REQUEST FOR EXTENSION OF APPOINTMENT OF HON. JUSTICE MUAZU ABDULKADIR PINDIGA AS ACTING CHIEF JUDGE OF GOMBE STATE. Ref: GH/GM/OFF/40/V. Because the NJC only act on request in such matter of extension, it graciously granted your request in consonance with the law.

The question that begs for answer is why was this kind of letter not written in favour of My Lord Justice Beatrice? One will be forced to conclude that it is obvious that you did not accord her this benefit because of her GENDER, RELIGION AND ETHNIC GROUP.

I therefore wish to draw your attention, to a flagrant violation of your oath of office taken on 29th May, 2019 as contained in the Seventh Schedule of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that You will not allow your personal interest to influence your official conduct or your official decisions.

Your Excellency Sir, by your action against Justice Beatrice Iliya, you have clearly demonstrated your willingness to jettison your oaths of office and to express your entrenched desire to discriminate against people that are not from your Hausa ethnic background. Remember, all along during your political travails, from 2011 to 2015 when you sought unsuccessfully to be Governor, your opponents have always accused you to be an ethnic chauvinist, religious bigot and unrepentantly parsimonious.

Remember that 2023 is not too far, when you will come back to the people of Gombe South and other ethnic nationals seeking for their mandate for your second term. We the people of Gombe South are beginning to regret our choice of your candidacy as our Governor. Sir you have forgotten in a hurry, how for the first time in history, the people of Gombe South Senatorial District overwhelmingly voted APC into virtually all elective offices.

Little did we know that you will betray us in every respect. For the first time in the history of Gombe State, the Government has refused to sponsor Christian pilgrimage to Jerusalem on the grounds of lack of money, while on the other hand muslim Pilgrims were sponsored to Saudi Arabia.

The Government of the Federation or of a State shall not discriminate against anyone on the basis of tribe, ethnic background, gender and religion.
The above is the clear provisions of section 10 of the 1999 constitution as amended.

His Excellency must understand that all this effort he is making to use any divisive choice is a clear violation of the Constitution which he has publicly swore to uphold without fear or favor. every citizen is entitled to equal treatment by the government.

Having stated the foregoing, the flimsy excuses for your refusal to extend the tenure of Acting capacity of Justice Beatrice while at the same time extending the Acting capacity of Justice Pindiga exposes the double standards in your interpretation of the Constitution. In her own case you argued that the Constitution did not provide for extension while in his own case, you relied on the same Constitution.

I will like to conclude my letter by calling your attention to the fact that Gombe State consists of people of different religious backgrounds and ethnic origins dispersed across the State. The man from Gombe Central is not more human than the man from South or North. I therefore advise and plead with you to treat our ethnic people who voted for you fairly and justly. Justice and fairness is all we ask from your government otherwise you will pay dearly for your continued discrimination against the people of Gombe South who are both Christians and Muslims.

Abraham Lincoln puts it correctly when he said:
“A private soldier has as much right to justice as a major-general”.

Long live Gombe State.

Benjamin Dangoma Tanglang
@dangoma10son wrote from Billiri

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Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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