A very very interesting case. If the constitutional reformers listen carefully, they might hear the voice for practical true federalism. Plateau governor sues Yar’Adua over Jos crisis By Tobi Soniyi and Jude Owuamanam Published: Tuesday, 30 Dec 2008 http://www.punchng.com/Articl.aspx?theartic=Art200812302334446 Does the President have the power to inquire into any violence in the 36 states of the Federation? This is a question that may soon be answered by the Supreme Court which has been asked by the Plateau State Governor, Jonah Jang, to order President Umaru Yar’Adua to stop meddling in the aftermath of the November 28, 2008 Jos crisis. Jang, who is sueing on behalf of the state, has invoked the original jurisdiction of the apex court by requesting it to stop a panel set up by President Yar’Adua from probing the unrest in which hundreds of lives and properties worth millions of naira were lost. The state also wrote a letter to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Michael Aondoakaa, advising the President to respect the rule of law. The rule of law is the cardinal principle driving the seven-point agenda of the Yar’Adua administration. Aondoakaa is the second respondent to the suit filed on Monday and which coincided with the constitution of a committee by the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike, to review the security situation in Jos. The letter, a copy of which was obtained by our correspondent reads in part, “We have no doubt that upon reading this letter and the processes attached, you would, in your characteristic manner, find it the least service you owe to the rule of law to advise the defendants to tread the path of the rule of law and direct the chairman and members of the administrative panel mentioned above not to sit or function until the Supreme Court would have determined the case.” In the suit filed by Mr. Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), Jang asked the Supreme Court to declare that Yar’Adua had no power under the 1999 Constitution or the Tribunal of Inquiry Act 1966 (now to be found in Cap T21 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) to constitute a tribunal or appoint any person or group of persons by whatever name called to inquire into the Jos unrest. He also requested the court to hold that the power to constitute a tribunal to inquire into the violence was a residual matter on which only the state House of Assembly was competent to make law vide section 4(7) of the constitution. Consequently, Jang urged the court to grant an injunction restraining the panel from inquiring into the Jos mayhem. Similarly, he sought an injunction restraining the Federal Government and its agents from directing anyone or a body of persons to sit or continue to sit as a tribunal purporting under the Tribunal of Enquiry Act on the disturbance. Yar’Adua had on December 25, 2008 constituted an administrative panel headed by Maj.-Gen. Emmanuel Abisoye (Rtd.) to inquire into the Jos crisis. Other members of the panel are Mr. Festus Okoye, Ambassador G.B. Preware, Ambassador Fatai Sa’ad Abubakar and Alhaji Musa Shafi’l (Secretary). The terms of reference of the panel include looking into the cause or causes of the crisis; and identifying those responsible for it . In an affidavit sworn to by the Director of Civil Litigation in the Plateau State Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Florence Lotben, the state said Yar’Adua had no power to meddle in a crisis involving residents of Jos North Local Government Area. She added in the affidavit which was attached to the originating summons that, “The right or power to conduct any inquiry into the said Jos crisis of 28th November 2008 belongs exclusively to the Plateau State Government as a residual matter. “The act of the Federal Government in setting up the said administrative panel of inquiry into the said Jos crisis is calculated to usurp the constitutional power vested in the Plateau State Government for reasons best known to the Federal Government.” Jang said that Yar’Adua did not consult him before setting up the panel to investigate events that took place within his jurisdiction. Pending the time the apex court will hear the originating summons, Fagbemi filed a motion on notice seeking an order preserving the res in the case. The Senior Advocate also asked the Supreme Court to stop the Federal Government from accepting the report of the committee. He added that if the recommendations in the report had been accepted, the Federal Government should be stopped from acting on them. Meanwhile, the security committee set up by Dike met with Jang on Monday. The Chairman of the committee, Maj. Gen. K. A Role, told the governor that the members were in Jos to assess its security situation and make recommendations, especially on the curfew in some parts of the city. He said that the team would, among others, monitor the security agents deployed in the city and interact with some residents of the state. Responding, the governor advocated the amendment of the constitution to give governors the powers to control security agencies in their states, especially in times of crisis. Jang expressed regret that a considerable time was wasted between the commencement of the crisis and the deployment of security agencies. He told the committee the efforts he had made to ensure peace and security in Jos and other parts of the state. He said that he had purchased some Hilux Pick- Up vans to ensure an effective patrol of all the nook and crannies of the capital city. He also advised that in order to avoid a backlash, the Federal Government should set up similar committee in other troubled spots.