A High Court in Plateau on Wednesday frowned over the failure of Gov. Simon Lalong to convene a meeting to resolve the Gbong Gwom stool tussle as ordered by the court.
Justice Christine Dabup, who expressed dismay over the attitude of the State Government to resolve the matter out of court, called for more caution and prudence on issues of state importance.
Nigeria News Agency reports that Dabup had on July 18 ordered for out of court settlement to be reported back to the Court on Oct. 2.
The court had ordered the state Director of Civil Litigation of Ministry of Justice, Mrs Florence Lotben, to go and inform Governor of the need for him to initiate an out of court settlement over the case and report back to it on Oct. 2.
But on resumption, Mr Niri Darong, Counsel the Plaintiffs, told the court that they kept waiting to no avail for a call from the Government for a round table discussion to see how the issue could tackle out of court.
“My Lord, we want to bring to your notice that since this honorable court gave the order on July 18 for an out of court settlement, we have never been invited for any such discussion till we again come before today.
“Only the counsel to the State Government can explain to us why we are still where we are today in spite of your order? As for us, we are very ready for out of court settlement or continuation of the case.
“We have filed our proposed terms of settlement to show that we want peace,’’ Darong said.
Responding, Lotben, told the court that the Gov. Lalong, who is the 1st Respondent, had not been stable in the state as he was “frequently out of the state on official engagements.”
“We are optimistic that once the Governor is back, we shall see how we could sit on a round table and iron out the matter as ordered by the court.
“All we need is more time and patience with us to do the needful.
“Our concern too is that we have not received the said proposed terms of settlement from the plaintiffs but once we get that, we shall be guided toward its realization,’’ Lotben assured.
However, a motion filed by Mr Nantok Dashur, Counsel, the State Government, and Mr B.K. Adam, counsel to the Hausa Community, who intended to be joined as co-defenders, were said to be incompetent as some parties were said to excluded.
Dashur and Adam both pleaded for more time to enable to put their motions and applications in order.
Justice Dabup then adjourned the case until Dec. 12 for report of settlement or hearing of the case.
In a similar matter filed by one Daniel Choji and four others against the Plateau Governor and three others, Counsel to Ujah Anaguta Chiefdom, Mr Harrison Ugwuala, moved his motion for extension of time for him to file his counter affidavit to the suit.
Also, Lotben, Counsel to Lalong, asked for time within which to file fresh papers in defence of the suit.
But Darong, Plaintiffs’ Counsel, told the Court that “in spite of the fact that this suit has been on since 2018, the Governor purportedly created two councils, Jos North and Riyom traditional councils on May 2.”
Mr Kingsley Malan, Counsel to Gbong Gwom Jos, agreed with Darong’s submission and described it as “pure contempt of Court.”
Responding, Lotben debunked such claims, and affirmed, “at no time had a Jos North or Riyom Traditional councils were ever created in the state by the Governor.”
After listening to all the parties involved, Justice Dabup also adjourned the case until Dec. 10 for hearing.
Edited by Abiodun Oluleye/Sadiya Hamza
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