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18 Jun 2017


By David Mzer

Last week, the Special Adviser to Governor Samuel Ortom on Media and ICT, Mr Tahav Agerzua requested the Public Complaints Commissioner in Benue State, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, to resign his position and descend into the partisan arena to engage on political platforms.
The Adviser stated that his call was predicated on the Public Complaints Commissioner’s obvious partisanship, abuse of office and peddling of deliberate fabrications of falsehood against the person, office, and administration of Governor Samuel Ortom.
Mr. Agerzua was responding to a recent letter that Alhaji Tsav wrote to the Governor which the Adviser claimed contained a litany of lies.
He stated that the write up was a contravention of the Public Complaints Act which stipulates that the Commission should investigate complaints and forward its findings to the relevant agencies.
The media manager argued that contrary to the Ombudsman’s claim that he abhorred corruption, he openly associated with those indicted by a judicial commission of inquiry who are also standing trial in various courts for corruption besides being investigated by security agencies.
The Special Adviser contended that in his case Alhaji Tsav has always been the complainant, the investigator and the judge in all matters that catch his fancy.
He cited two recent Benue High Court judgments to further support his argument that Alhaji Tsav had abused his position and office.
One was a judgment of the Sankera High Court which described the Public Complaints Commissioner as Don Quixote, the legendary Knight in shining armor fighting battles for his loved ones in the matter of the Ombudsman trying to claim four plots of land from one Iorfator Ishwa of Gboko town for his wife and children. The second was that of a Makurdi High Court which ordered Alhaji Tsav to pay N10 million to Mr. Abrahams Kwaghngu, one of Governor Ortom’s aides for libel.
Journalists requested Alhaji Tsav to react to the call for his resignation and the second court judgment. His answer as published baffled me.
He stated that he was performing his job in accordance with the dictates of those who appointed him who were men of honor and integrity. That there was grave miscarriage of justice against him which he would appeal. That Kwaghngu and Governor Ortom read the libel judgment before it was delivered. That his current position not withstanding he would continue to fight corruption and would not associate with a corrupt government.
I found these answers baffling. I thought Alhaji Tsav could answer that he had not breached the provisions of the Public Complaints Act as alleged but was performing his duties in compliance with the act. For him to have answered that he was performing in accordance with the dictates of those who appointed him clearly reveals that he had an agenda which he was appointed to pursue.
This seems to confirm the allegation of Mr. Agerzua in his reply to Alhaji Tsav letter that he was given the appointment with the specific assignment to run down Governor Ortom and his administration.
For someone to say there has been a miscarriage of justice in a judgment in which he is involved and to instruct is lawyers to appeal to a higher court is normal and civilized behavior. But for one to imply that a judge was so influenced in his decision that he wrote his judgment and gave one of the parties to read is outlandish, bizarre and reprehensible. Anyone who subjects his or herself to the jurisdiction of a court is bound to accept and respect the decision of that court in good faith and to appeal if dissatisfied. To begin to cast aspersions on a judge because one has lost a case smacks of the behavior of a fifth columnist. Our institutions must be respected especially by those saddled with public service if they themselves wish to be respected.
It is unthinkable for a judge of the highly revered Benue State judiciary to write his judgment and give to an interested party to read before delivering it. What could be at stake before such outrageous conduct could take place? In the case on hand judgment was delivered in open court by 10 O'clock in the morning of 12thJune, 2017 with Mr. Kwaghngu and the media present. If Governor Ortom in the afternoon of the same day makes reference to the judgment he must have either been briefed by his aide or read a report of the judgment in the media.
For Alhaji Tsav to have used such as reference to say the Governor was privy to the judgment before its delivery is unfounded, baseless and condemnable.
For the Public Complaints Commissioner who has been saddled with the responsibilities of investigating complaints against public officials and forwarding it to the appropriate authorities to wear the gab of complainant, prosecutor and judge in the media is most unfortunate.
Otherwise, what is the basis of Alhaji Tsav’s conclusion that Governor Ortom’s administration was corrupt?
Most surprising is that the Ombudsman has never invited anyone accused of fraud or corruption in the Ortom administration to defend his or herself before him as required by the basic principle of fair hearing before arriving at his conclusions.
In my opinion, Alhaji Tsav has not acquitted himself of the charges which the Special Adviser has leveled against him.
He ought to resign.
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