Alhaji Abubakar Tsav is former Commissioner of Police Lagos state. An elder statesman and anti-corruption crusader, he is at present a Commissioner at Public Complaints Commission. In this interview with KULA TERSOO, he blasts Benue state Governor Samuel Ortom’s individual target anti-corruption campaign amongst other issues
How would you mourn the death of the Begha U Tiv, Orchivirigh Dr. Alfred Akawe Torkula Tor Tiv IV? I am in deeply in sympathy over his death and when I consider happenings before his death, I think it is god for him to go and rest. I think the late Tor Tiv is perhaps one of the most criticized, the most accused, the most harassed, the most intimidated traditional ruler in this country by his people. By the time he had no respect; people would say all sorts of things against him in his presence and his hearing. I remember when the present governor was being inaugurated; people were singing and abusing the Tor Tiv and the Tiv people were there. But it is sad that he died and I am sure perhaps he died because of frustration which he suffered in the hands of the so called leaders.
I wish him a better here after than what he suffered here and I also want to sympathize with his family for the loss. I pray God to grant them the fortitude to bear the loss. One good thing is that whoever rejoices at the death of the Tor Tiv or feels sad, all of us will go the same way. He is now gone but we don’t know how we are going to go, when we will go and where we will go. We want to take advantage of this too to advice all our elders and our leaders to try to develop the habit of respecting every person that is placed before them as the Tor Tiv or their chief.
We should learn to respect our traditional rulers just like other tribes respect their traditional rulers. For instance, when you call the Alaafin of Oyo, you say ‘Ekuyiye Baba.’ That suggests that he has the power to kill your father and your mother; these are his titles. But can we say the same of our Tor Tiv? No. In other places when their chiefs, their Emirs drive from his Palace to any other place, you see people kneeling down greeting him but here people throw stones at them. I don’t know why; very sad.
Away from the Tor Tiv institution, the Supreme Court of Nigeria recently affirmed the election of Samuel Ortom as Benue State Governor. Can you say that the judiciary is living up to its expectations judging from this verdict? Throughout the hearing of this appeal, I did not go to court so I am not conversant with the evidence the court based its judgment. But right from the beginning, I was not pleased with Ortom and I am still not pleased with him because he claimed to have run from injustice but was happy to go and cause same elsewhere. Before he went to APC, there was nothing he didn’t say against APC. He called the party names and today, he went in there and he started abusing the former party that brought him up. So, I still stand on the same position because you ran from injustice to go and cause injustice elsewhere and we say we are the same Tiv people. You ran from injustice to go and cause injustice for your brothers. That is my position.
Following the victory of the APC in the last elections, some people are moving into the party on daily basis. As an observer, how do you consider this trend? As far as I am concerned, these people have no principle and they have no ideology. They are like tall trees that move as the wind wants them to move. They have no principle, they have no ideology; they are in politics to serve themselves, they are not into politics to serve people. If you are in politics to serve your people, when you lost an election, you remain in your party and try and garner support against the next election. Supposing APC losses again, you will come back to the PDP again. It is not good as far as I am concerned, they are not reliable people; they are not people to deal with.
What can you say is responsible for the concern shown by some Tiv political elites in the rescheduled Senatorial election between Senator David Mark and the APC Senatorial Candidate for Benue South, Daniel Onjeh? It is sheer jealousy as far as I am concerned because David Mark has been in the Senate since 1999 and he looked after his people so well; he has helped his people so well and even when a Tiv man went to him, he helped him. But these people who are against him have not done enough and have not helped their people so that are jealous of him and they want to pull him down by all means. That is just the only thing; they have no other reason because the Idoma for instance have the right to appoint their own leaders; they have a right to elect their own leaders, they have a right to elect their own leaders.
They have a right to select who leads them but how can you here leave your own area and you want to impose another person on the Idoma? If you truly love the Idomas, why don’t you give the Idomas the slot to become the governor of Benue State? And if you really love Idoma, why do you sideline them in some appointments in this political dispensation? So the whole thing is jealousy, selfishness and it is bad. In Tiv land for instance, when Mathias Byuan stood election against Gemade, they persuaded him not to go ahead because he was inexperience to Gemade and so Gemade should go.
When Terngu Tsegba contested against Akume, it was the same thing. When Suswam contested Senate seat with Gemade and Gemade won, Akume and Gemade came and pleaded with Suswam to let it go and Suswam allowed it. Why are the same people now asking Onjeh to try and unseat David Mark? If they cannot look after their people, let them allow the Idomas to select whoever they want to be their leader. I see it as selfishness, greed and jealousy.
You appear to be in support of Buhari’s war against corruption but you are not in support of Ortom’s war against corruption. Why? Buhari’s war against corruption is all embracing.Anybody who is involved in corruption, Buhari is interested in no matter who the person is. Look at Jafaru Isa, a very close friend to Buhari, he was involved in this arms deal, and he was arrested. But in the case of Benue State, it is not war against corruption, it is war against an individual; that is all and as simple as that and I know that when Suswam was the governor, he assisted so many people including Ortom himself. Perhaps, the only offence he committed against Ortom was that he did not select Ortom to be the governor under PDP and if he had selected Ortom to be the governor under the PDP maybe, he would not have won the election.
But the man has not remembered this, he has forgotten it completely. So if somebody wants to deny you something and God gives you that thing, why can’t you ignore the person and leave him alone? So there is no war against corruption in Benue State; it is war against individual. If today, I start abusing Suswam, Ortom will embrace me, but I never abuse Suswam because as far as I am concerned, Suswam is a good man; he has a good heart.