By: Valentine Adese, Alfred Saiki and Frank Agbai,
Plateau State Government may prosecute the immediate past governor of the state, Sen. Jonah David Jang, if the report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry (JCI) recently submitted to the State Governor, Simon Bako Lalong, by the Commission has any indictable information on him or any other person(s) in his administration from 29th May, 2007 to 29th May, 2015.
The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Jonathan Mafuyau (ESq) has disclosed during an on-the-spot interview with journalists, at the Plateau State High Court premises yesterday, after the High Court delivered its ruling, dismissing the Originating Summons filed by Sen. Jang seeking to restrain the publication of the JCI report.
The Commissioner said the state government would take its time to study the report and produce a white paper on the findings of the JCI soon in order to meet its promise to the people of the state.
He said, “Of course we promised the people of Plateau State that, we will not use their funds in vain. Since the JCI was duly constituted and it used public funds, we must justify that by, coming up with government’s position on whatever the findings of the commission were. So, in essence, we must, and we will, come up with a whitepaper!
“Certainly, we want to ensure that justice is done at this point, we may not provide you with a ready answer on whether the whitepaper would indict anybody but, when we look into the report of the JCI, and the documents it unraveled in the course of its hearing, then we will make the appropriate statement. At this point, we don’t want to act prematurely because we have just being admonished that things should not be done prematurely.
“On whether we will drag Sen. Jang to court? We will consider that because, our findings will have to be weighed against the provisions of our criminal laws and if there are areas where persons ought to be prosecuted we will have no hesitation in prosecuting them and those that need to go through the civil process, to refund whatever is refundable to Plateau state, we will take advantage of such provisions of law to ensure that justice is done!
The Hon. Commissioner in part also said:
“If you look at the comportment of this government from the beginning, it took a lot of time to appeal to people who knew that they had something to return to government to do so even before the JCI was setup. But, people took that, as weakness of the government. So, it became imperative that the Commission should be setup. We are not tired of pursuing that path of peace but, if you pursue and the other person does not see the need to understand with you and to pursue the same path of peace, then you apply the law. So, that is what we will do, to apply legal provision so that, whatever needs to be done is done, to put things in the order and in the right perspective, so that, governance would be sustained in the state.
"Whether this is a personal vendetta? It was not. You saw the results. So many things were revealed and we were very careful. Don’t forget the fact that the same plaintiff had setup the same Commission of Inquiry and in that one, so many clauses were put in the instrument, such as, to investigate, make orders for refunds, convict, and some many other things were said. That is why the past governor before him challenged him in court and succeeded.
"He thought he could do the same thing but, we made sure that, we came up with a good instrument that does not seek to usurp the powers of the regular courts and that is why it went through.
"The pronouncement of the High Court today, makes us feel happy that we did the right thing by coming up with the right instrument that gave the JCI a conducive atmosphere to operate within the Commission’s law."
You would recall that Plateau State High Court, Presided over by Hon. Justice Pius Damulak had dismissed the Originating Summons filed by Sen. Jonah David Jang, representing Plateau North Senatorial District at the upper chambers of the National Assembly, which was seeking to restrain Governor Simon Lalong, from publishing the recommendations of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry (JCI) instituted to investigate all the financial transactions entered into within his eight years in office, as the governor of the state, from 29th May 2007 to 29th May 2015.
The Court also resolved all the 11 questions in the Originating Summons in favour of Governor Simon Lalong and Nine (9) other Defendants in the suit.
More also, the Court had Ordered that Sen. Jang should pay the sum of N3.4million to the Defendants as cost.
The Court ordered that, N400,000.00 should be paid to Governor Lalong, N1Million to the Plateau state Government and the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice of the State, Hon. Jonathan Mawuyau (Esq) respectively.
In its ruling, while ruling on the 11 questions in the Originating Summons, Justice Damulak held that, Governor Lalong has powers to investigate any matter in any department or agency of the state according to Laws of Northern Nigeria and that the Judicial Commission of Inquiry (JCI) was established according to law.
Dismissing the Suit and refusing the reliefs sought by Jang, Justice Damulak held that, no evidence of criminality against the Plaintiff (Jang) is before him and hence his action was premature.
Justice Damulak said, “No evidence of indictment of the Plaintiff is before me, it is speculative and therefore discloses no cause of action. The Plaintiff’s action is hereby dismissed and the reliefs, refused.”
It is however of note that, the Plaintiff (Sen. Jang) and his Counsel were not in Court at the time of delivering this ruling today. You would also recall that the Plateau state High Court is on Vacation.