By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North, Innocent Anaba & John Mkom
ABUJA — Sixteen out of the 24 members of the Taraba State House of Assembly, yesterday, barred ailing Governor Danbaba Suntai, from resuming work, on account of his feeble state of health.
This came as the Acting Governor, Alhaji Garba Umar, yesterday, reversed the sack of the state Executive Council as ordered by Suntai.
Meantime, the Taraba State caucus in the House of Representatives will, today, deliberate on the Suntai resumption saga.
The decision of the lawmakers followed a prolonged meeting with the governor last night, during which, they came to grips with the true state of his health.
In a statement released to journalists, the 16 lawmakers insisted that Suntai was unfit to resume and that they doubted the author of the letter, which was sent to the House of Assembly on Monday.
Based on their assessment of Suntai, the lawmakers authorised Garba Umar, his deputy, who has been acting as the governor of the state in the last 10 months, to continue to hold fort until Suntai was fit to steer the ship of state.
The 16 lawmakers opposed to Suntai’s resumption of work, are led by the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Haruna Tsokwa, who had on Tuesday warned that Suntai could not resume unless he addressed them.
The Speaker, who is believed to be loyal to the acting governor, was also at the ‘meeting’ with Suntai on Wednesday night.
In the letter dated August 29, 2013, and jointly signed by the Speaker and 15 other lawmakers, they noted that Suntai could not have written the resumption of work letter, given his failing health.
Part of the letter read: “It is no longer news that the Governor of Taraba State Pharmacist Danbaba Danfulani Suntai was involved in a plane crash on October 25, 2012, whereof, he was flown to Germany for treatment in a condition that made him incapable of transmitting a letter to the Taraba State House of Assembly informing it of his absence in office.
“The House invoked the provisions of section 190(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and transmitted power to his deputy to act in the office of the governor of Taraba State. We are all living witnesses to the way and manner the Governor was brought into the state on Sunday, August 25, 2013.
“The leadership of the Taraba State House of Assembly made several efforts to see him since his arrival, until yesterday (Wednesday) August 28, 2013 when they were allowed access to the ailing governor and their visit revealed that he spoke in a manner that brought more doubt to his authorship of the letter purportedly transmitted to the Speaker of the State House of Assembly.
“In view of the above, we are convinced that Suntai could not have authored the purported letter transmitted to the Speaker of the State House of Assembly.
“Be that as it may, we the undersigned members of the State House of Assembly have unanimously resolved in our meeting that the Deputy Governor upon whom power was earlier transmitted to by the State House of Assembly still remains the Acting Governor of Taraba State and he will continue to act in that regard until such a time the Governor is capable of administering the state”.
Those who moved against the governor were, Haruna Tsokwa, Speaker; Tanko Adamyu, Deputy Speaker; Mohammed Gwampo, Chief Whip; Josiah Kente, Deputy Majority Leader and Mohammed Umar, Deputy Chief Whip.
Others were, Ibrahim Adam Imam, Minority Leader; Yahaya Abduraman, Minority Whip; Iratsi Daki, Rasida Abdullahi, Aminu Jalingo, Emmanuel Dame, John Bonzema, A.A. Jugulde, Hamandama Abdullahi, Abdulkarim Mohammed and Edward Baraya.
Some natives of the state expressed fears that it was apparent that the lawmakers, who had garnered two-thirds of the members of the House of Assembly, could easily impeach the ailing governor, should he continue to move against their interest.
However, a former member of the dissolved cabinet said, yesterday, that Suntai would come out of the present predicament and take over the affairs of the state.