Suntai Can’t Rule, Assembly Says
Jalingo — The Taraba State House of Assembly yesterday asked ailing Governor Danbaba Suntai to return to hospital as he was still too sick to govern, a day after the lawmakers were allowed to see him for the first time since his return from the United States on Sunday.
In a statement signed by 16 of the 24 members of the House, the lawmakers declared that Acting Governor Garba Umar remained in charge, and cast doubt on if Suntai did write the letter sent to them in his name on Monday.
“The leadership of the assembly made several efforts to see the governor since his arrival, but till Wednesday they were not allowed access to him. The ailing governor spoke in a manner that brought more doubt to his letter purportedly transmitted to thespeaker,” the statement said.
“In view of the above, we, the undersigned members of the state assembly unanimously resolved at our meeting that the Deputy Governor, upon whom power was earlier transmitted to by the state Assembly, still remain the acting Governor of Taraba.
“He will continue to act in that regards until such a time the governor is capable of administering the state.”
Lawmakers who signed the statement include Speaker Haruna Tsokwa, Deputy Speaker Tanko Maikarfi, Chief Whip Mohammed Gwampo, Deputy Majority Leader Josiah Kente, Deputy Chief Whip Mohammed Umar, Minority Leader Ibrahim Imam and Minority Whip Yahya AbdulRahman.
Others are Rashida Abdullahi, Aminu Umar, Mr Iratsi Daki, Emmanuel Dame, John Bonzena, Dr Abubakar Jugulde, Abdulkarim Mohammed, Edward Baraya and Hamman Adamu Abdullahi.
Until his return on Sunday, Suntai had been in Germany and in the US treating injuries sustained in the crash of a plane he was piloting near Yola, Adamawa State, on October 25 last year.
Though his associates claim he has fully recovered, events since his return indicate the contrary. He had to be helped to deplane on Sunday in Abuja and Jalingo, and remained indoors since. He was shown briefly on state television Wednesday evening, making a labourious speech which was barely audible.
When a letter was delivered to the State House of Assembly on Monday, purportedly written by Suntai, saying he was back and would take charge, the lawmakers said Tuesday he must first appear before them to convince them he was fit enough.
Instead of accepting the invitation, Suntai’s spokesman issued a statement on Wednesday, saying the governor had dissolved the state executive council and appointed a new Secretary to the State Government (SSG) as well as a new Chief of Staff.
Following the doubt cast by the lawmakers on Suntai’s ability to govern yesterday, acting governor Umar announced a reversal of the cabinet sack.
His spokesman Kefas Sule said all commissioners and other members of the executive council should disregard Wednesday’s announcement by Suntai’s office and resume work in their respective offices.
In a statement, Sule also urged bankers of the state government to honour only financial instruments with verifiable signatures of either the acting governor or of the ailing governor.
There was no word from the commissioners affected last night.
When Daily Trust sought the reaction of Suntai’s spokesperson Sylvanus Giwa, he said as far as he was concerned the governor was healthy.
“As far as I am concerned, my governor is healthy and he is performing his function as a governor. If you watched NTA Network this evening (yesterday), you would see the governor swearing in the new SSG, debunking rumours that he can’t speak,” Giwa said by telephone.
But hours after the assembly’s resolution, a group of eight lawmakers headed by Majority Leader Joseph Albasu Kunini, urged the public to disregard the decision by the 16 legislators.
Kunini told Daily Trust by telephone the 16 lawmakers “have no legal power to do” what they did and “we therefore disregard that statement.”
He said, “The speaker is shying away from his responsibility. What they did is not enough. We take resolutions in the chamber not in his private residence. The speaker is trying to cause confusion in the state and the public should disregard it.”