Justice Mamman Nasir and boundary clashes
Of all the tributes poured on Justice Mamman Nasir, the late Galadima of Katsina, who died on April 13 this year at 89, his work in solving boundary problems was overlooked. Yet his contribution in solving boundary disputes was the most outstanding duty that he performed to this country. On August 7, 1975, the then Head of State, Brigadier Murtala Mohammed set up a panel on the creation of more states in the country. At that time there were twelve states. The panel was headed by Justice Gabriel Ayo Irekefe. The secretary of the panel was Chief Patrick Dele Cole, who was then a senior administrative officer, political division, Cabinet office in Lagos. Dr. Cole worked under Yahaya Abubakar, that erudite Permanent Secretary, Political Affairs in the powerful cabinet office in Lagos.
Other members of the panel were Dr Alli Danlami Yahaya, who was then a Senior lecturer at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Mr. Solomon Daushep Lar, Brigadier Godwin Ally, then Commander of the Lagos Garrison and Mr. C. Audifferen. Mr Lar was then a Jos based lawyer. He later became chairman of African Continental Bank. In 1979, he was elected governor of Plateau state and in 1999, he became the pioneer chairman of the PDP. Brigadier Ally was a gentleman officer from Obudu in Ogoja area in the now Cross River state and his ADC at that time was Lt-Col Lawan Gwadabe, who later became the military governor of Niger state between 1987-1992 under the tenure of General Ibrahim Babangida.
Brigadier Ally also doubled by then as Military Secretary. The then lieutenant Colonel Shehu Musa Yar’dua worked under him in the Lagos Garrison. But for him, the coup de tat of 1975 that brought Brigadier Murtala Mohammed to power would not have been possible. Colonel Gwadabe will shed more light on this in his forth coming book. The panel submitted its report finally on December 23, 1975 to Brigadier Murtala Mohammed.
On January 8, 1976, Brigadier Mohammed was promoted General along with Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, Brigadier Olusegun Obasanjo who was promoted Lt-General. Brigadier Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, the Chief of Army Staff was promoted Lt-General also. Also promoted on that day was Commodore Michael Ayinde Adelanwa, who was Chief of Naval Staff, was promoted Rear- Admiral. Admiral Adelanwa was the last naval ADC to the last British Governor General in Nigeria, Sir James Wilson Robertson.
The Chief of Air Staff, Colonel John Namadu Yisa Doko, from Doko village in Niger state was equally promoted to Air Commodore. The following officers were on that day promoted to Major General from Brigadier. They are Major Generals James Alani Ipoola Akinrinade, Martin Adamu, James JaiyeolaOluleye, Iliya Bisala, Emmanuel Olumuyiwa Abisoye, Orho Obada, Gibson SangaJalo, Olufemi Olutoye, Muhammed Shuwa, Ibrahim Bata Malgwi Haruna and Henry Edmund Olufemi Adefowope.
Finally General Murtala Mohammed created nineteen states on February 3, 1976. He created Anambra state out of Enugu, Isi-Uzo, Uzo-Uwani, Ezeagu, Nkanu, Abakaliki, Ezzikwo and Njikoka, created Bauchi out of Bauchi Province less Jarawa district, Bendel out Ndomi Area, Isoko and Western Ijaw, Benue out Benue province less Wakari, includes Idah Dekina and Ankpa, BORNO created out of Borno province less Sheni District plus Uba District, Cross River out of Oron, Calabar, Akamba, Obubra, Ikom, Ogoja and Obudu, Gongola out of Adamawa province (less Uba District) plus Sardauna Province, Muri Northern Division plus Wukari, Imo state created out of Afikpo, Oguta, Nkwerre, Mbano, Mbaisse, Bende, Arochukwu, Umuahia, Okigwe, Orlu, Oru, Mbaitoli/Ikeduri, Etiti, Ohafia, Northern Ngwa, Owerri, Aba and Ukwa, Kaduna out of former North Central state, Kano created out of Kano Province, Kwara created out of former Kwara state less Igala, Lagos-no change, Niger created out of Niger province less Zuru, OGUN created out of Abeokuta, Egba, Egbado, Ijebu and Ijebu-Remo, Ondo out of Akure, Ondo, Owo, Okitipupa, Ekiti, W/Ekiti, S/Ekiti, C/Ekiti and Akoko, Oyo out of S/Oyo, Ibarapa, Ibadan, N.W. Osun, Osun Central, S/Osun, C/E. Osun, Ife and Ijesha, PLATEAU out of Plateau province, Jos plus Jarawa district, Rivers out of Port-Harcourt plus part of Opobo plus Western Ijaw and Sokoto state created out Sokoto province plus Zuru.
But what delayed the creation of states by then was the problems over boundaries. General Murtala Mohammed explained to the nation in his broadcast to the nation that problems over boundaries amongst states was the greatest fear the then Supreme Council faced. He then set-up a six man panel under Justice Nasir to carry out these assignments—examine the boundary adjustment problems identified by the Irekefe panel on the creation of states, specify which areas of Andoni and Nkoro in Opobo Division of the Cross River State and which areas of Ndoni should form part of the Rivers or Imo states, Investigate an define the boundaries of any other areas, district or division which might be brought to the notice of the panel; to define inter-state boundaries, especially in cases of inter-governmental official disputes and make recommendations on the fore-going terms and any other matters incidental to boundary adjustment in the new states structure. While examining the boundary adjustment problems identified by the Irikefe Panel the Nasir Commission would, in particular look into: The Egbema villages in Rivers and Imo states; The Ndoki areas in Rivers, Cross River and Imo states, Awarra /Asa and Umuakpu clan in Oguta Division; Amala, Alulu, Oburu, Mbano and Obakwe Community Council areas in Owerri Division in Imo state; Ette in Igbo-Eze Division, Olumbanassa and Ozam in Anambra Division in Anambra state; The Ofe-Omuma in AbaUrban Division; the villages of IkotAbana, IkotUtin, IkotUko, IkotEbok, IkotEkpenyong, IkotUmoEssien, IkotIneme and OkotinIkotEkpene Division of Cross River State; The Obotne-Arochukwu boundaries in the Imo and Cross River States; The ItuMbamuso-danin the Cross Rive State. The Biase administrative district in the AkamkpaDivsion of Cross River State; The Ereidan in the Cross River and Imo States; the Itigidi-Agbodan in Obubra Division in Cross River State; the villages of Sabe and Iyagba in Ondo state; The Ikales of the Ariyan Community in Okitipupa Division in Ondo state.
Other member of the panel were Justice Joseph Diekola Ogundire who was then the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Mr R.O. Coker, director of Federal Survey, Mr. G.E. Menkiti, Mr. Andrew IzikwuObeya, who was then Secretary to Plateau State Government and later became the executive Secretary of National University Commission and Mr. C.O. Ikpi.
After the inauguration, members of the panel embarked on a country wide tour and they met hostile receptions but they kept on in their assignment. There will always be disputes on boundaries in this country but the Mamman Nasir panel tried the best they could in reducing those conflicts. In the end he recommended the establishment of a National Boundary Commission, which was later implemented by General Ibrahim Babangida in 1990. After his assignment he was later appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court. Justice Nasir later became the second President of the Court of Appeal. He retired back home as the Galadima of Katsina. He had earlier worked at the Public Works Department Engineering School, Kaduna,1947-1950, University College, Ibadan, 1951-1953, Council of Legal Education, London, 1953-1956, called to the Bar, Lincoln’s Inn, 1955; Crown counsel, 1960-1961, Minister of Justice, Northern Nigeria, 1961-1966, in private legal practice, 1966-1967, director of Public Prosecutions, Northern Nigeria, 1967, Solicitor-General, North Central State, 1968-1975, Justice Supreme Court, 1975-1976, appointed Judge, Federal Court of Appeal, 1976, also President, Federal Court of Appeal, 1978 and legal adviser, Nigeria’s People’s Congress, 1961-1966.
A very good, competent public servant answered the final on April 13. Surely he will be missed.