The Plateau Government on Thursday clarified that the Supreme Court judgment on asset sharing with Nasarawa State did not evict Gov. Jonah Jang from the Governor’s Lodge, Jishe.
Mr Edward Pwajok, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, made the clarification in Jos at a news briefing at Government House, Rayfield, Jos.
Pwajok said the judgment only transferred some property formerly belonging to the old Plateau to Nasarawa State following the creation of the state from Plateau in 1996.
The judgment was delivered on March 23 by a full panel of the court.
The commissioner decried the ``misrepresentations of the judgment by the media, some senior lawyers and respectable citizens.
``The Nasarawa State Government sought a declaration that it was the beneficial owner of 13 properties by virtue of the State Creation Act, 1996 and the Reports of the Plateau and Nasarawa States’ Joint Committee on Appraisal of Assets and Liabilities and the agreement reached by both states in 1998.
``Nasarawa also sought an order directing Plateau to hand over all title documents relating to the said properties as well as restraining Plateau from interfering with Nasarawa right to peaceful occupation and enjoyment of the properties.
``In the unanimous decision of the Supreme Court whose lead judgment was delivered by the Hon. Justice John Afolabi Fabiyi, JSC, and endorsed by six other Justices, the court granted all the above reliefs.”
Pwajok saidboth Nasarawa’s claim and the judgment acknowledged that it was the refusal of Plateau to yield vacant possession of three of the 13 properties that led to the court action.
The commissioner denied that Jang recently vacated the Governor’s Lodge, Jishe as a result of the judgment but stressed that the governor was at liberty to choose which Government House to use.
He condemned the alleged twisting of the judgment as well as allegation that Jang squandered public fund to renovate a lodge belonging to Nasarawa State.
Pwajok explainedthat an agreement was earlier reached between former military governors of the two states in 1998 in the presence of late Head of State Sani Abacha and Lt. Gen Jeremiah Useni.
He said in the agreement, Plateau agreed to cede the 13 property to Nasarawa State.
``The agreement did not include Government House, Jishe.
“It was this agreement that made the court to invoke the equitable doctrine of estoppels to declare that Plateau cannot renege from the agreement it entered into.
``Indeed, the minutes of the meeting presided over by the then late head of state, General Abacha, which were tendered in court and were part of the case of Nasarawa showed that it was agreed that Governor’s Lodge, Jishe, was a ``no-go-area” and so was not part of the assets/liabilities sharing.”
The commissioner said that the issue predated Jang’s administration, pointing out that it was Gov. Joshua Dariye’s administration that wrote the Nasarawa State Government.
In the letter, Dariye contended that the agreement was made in error and refused to hand over the properties.
Pwajok said that the state was currently engaged in fraternal discussions with Nasarawa State at the highest level of government to amicably resolve the issues.
He, however, warned that the Plateau Government would not hesitate to use all legal means, including criminal prosecution, to protect the sanctity of the court and ward off any misrepresentation of the judgment.