BY ACHOR ABIMAJE |
More than two months after he was buried, the Tarok in Plateau State are yet to begin the process of selecting a successor to the last occupier of the Ponzhi Tarok, Gen. Domkat Yah Bali.
Contrary to the earlier position that the late Bali’s kinsmen and kingmakers, who are vested with the responsibility of selecting a new monarch for the Tarok people, are not keen in deciding who becomes the successor of Bali because they were still mourning the former chief of defence staff, LEADERSHIP Friday has learnt that several court cases have stalled the move to pick a new king for the area.
Although there are a few people eyeing the stool but because of the present circumstances, the process of selecting a new Ponzhi Tarok would not be initiated soon unless all the court cases were disposed off or the people decided to resolve them amicably.
An impeachable source in the Tarok leadership told our correspondent that the source of every traditional rulership is through conquest, adding that in the case of Tarok traditional institution, there was nothing like that.
He said the 2010 Gazette which was the basis for the election of Gen. Bali was fraudulent which the court had nullified, stressing that the original gazette was that of 1975.
With the development, the Ponzhi Tarok stool has joined the long list of vacant stools in the state and there is uncertainty on when the selection would take place.
The burial of Bali stirred a cultural controversy in December last year as the people and the military authorities differed on the burial rites and interment.
Before his death, Bali was the Ponzhi Tarok and president of the Langtang North/ South Local Government Joint Traditional Council of Plateau State. Tension mounted in the area over the alleged burial arrangement by the military without recognising Langtang North and Langtang South Joint Traditional Council.
It was gathered that the prime place the people accorded Bali made them to kick against the move by military to take over the burial arrangements without involving the custodians of the culture of Tarok ethnic nationality.
The Ngwang Ishi O’Tarok (NIO) the Socio-economic and Cultural Development Organisation of Tarok Nation had in a press statement it issued in Jos, the state capital, vowed to accord Bali full traditional burial rites as a First-class chief and president of the Langtang Joint Traditional Council as affirmed by the Court of Appeal, Jos Division
The chairman of Langtang North LG Dr. Joshua Ubandoma Laven and his Langtang South counterpart Nimchak Rims who addressed newsmen on behalf of the Tarok Nation at the Palace of the Ponzhi Taroh, had cautioned the military against going ahead with the burial arrangements without respecting the culture and tradition of Tarok.
Laven said the chief priests of Taroh’s land who are not supposed to come out anyhow trooped out in large numbers from the hills and marched straight to the palace of the Ponzhi Tarok to register their displeasure over the attempt to subvert the customs and tradition of the Tarok people by the military.
Similarly, the acting Ponzhi Tarok, who is also the Ponzhi Zinni, HRH Nimnan Langnim, said Tarok’s land was experiencing a sad experience in its history, adding that the people were mourning the demise of Gen. Bali.
A twist was then added to the controversy on the position of Bali as Ponzhi Tarok, when some kingmakers said for record purposes, the General was never installed as the Ponzhi Tarok.
According to them, the December 2010 election of Ponzhi Tarok was marred with several controversies and needless litigaions, adding that as kingmakers, some of them were deprived of the opportunity to participate in the exercise and therefore there was no election that day.
The kingmakers had in a statement issued in Jos and signed by Hon Nicholas Musa Ponzhi Tumwat, Hon Nanman Bale, Ponzhi Dambar, Binfat Zitta, Ponzhi Mbin, Lagan, Zinni and others, claimed that the executive fiat by the state government triggered various litigations in courts.
They further argued that some of the cases were still ongoing and subsisting judgements which stopped Gen. Bali from performing the role of Ponzhi Tarok or presenting himself for installation as Ponzhi Tarok.
According to them while these cases were pending in court, Gen Bali resigned from the position and his action was duly acknowledged by the state government, pointing out that the governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong convened a meeting of Tarok stakeholders at the Government House, in Little Rayfield, Jos and announced to the Tarok nation that his administration was aware of the resignation of Bali as Ponzhi Tarok and had acknowledged same.
“The governor further announced that the stool of Ponzhi Tarok is vacant and that the only legal instrument known to government on the Ponzhi Tarok stool is the 1975 Gazette and not the 2010 Gazette that was unilaterally promulgated by Plateau State government,” they said.
Gen Bali was a recipient of various service and national awards. Among them was the Grand Commander of Order of Niger (GCON), Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR), Defence Service Medal, National Service Medal, Republic Service Medal, General Service Medal and Forces Service Star.
His burial rites which began from Abuja climaxed in Plateau State before the remains were interred. The corps was flown in from Abuja and brought to his house in Rayfield, Jos for a service of songs/lying in state, while a funeral service was held at the headquarters COCIN Church in Jos before his remains were taken to Langtang for the final ceremony and burial under tight security.