By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North, Henry Umoru & John Mkom
Jalingo—Human and vehicular movement in the Taraba State capital, Jalingo, was disrupted for about two hours, yesterday, following the return of injured Governor Danbaba Suntai to the state.
The aircraft, a Hawker 800, which brought Suntai, who had been away from the state since October last year, touched down at 3:40pm at the Jalingo Airport, amidst tight security.
Suntai sat in the plane with his aides and junior brother, Babangida Suntai.
Two other small aircraft, a Dornier, with registration number 224 BA, ferried members of the governor’s family, while another one marked 5NBMR, conveyed his friends and associates and touched down at 3:45pm.
He was received by the Deputy Governor, Garba Umar, who has been acting since the absence of Suntai, and his wife, Hajia Hauwa Suntai, who arrived the state with his children last Friday ahead of the Governor’s return.
As the plane touched down, an excited Hauwa, assisted by the governor’s security aides, got into the aircraft and came out with Suntai, while the crowd that had taken over all available space in the medium airport, hailed.
Supported while disembarking from the aircraft, Suntai walked to his waiting car, waved to the cheering supporters and was immediately driven away in a convoy of cars to the Government House, Jalingo.
He did not address the hordes of party chieftains and supporters, who had gathered, apparently expecting him to speak to them or relive his experience since the unfortunate incident of October 25, 2012, when his plane went down, inflicting him with injury that took him to two countries— Germany and the United States of America— for treatment.
Traffic, crowd control
Security men had a hectic time trying to control the crowd within and outside the airport, as thousands of Taraba natives flocked out to welcome the governor to the capital.
Although it appeared that the governor was still in pains and unable to stand the rigours of addressing the large crowd, he smiled and motioned to the crowd in acknowledgement.
The expected arrival of the governor had caused serious traffic snarl, a development that made it impossible for them to be able to leave the airport, nearly two hours after the governor’s entourage had left.
The state’s Commissioner for Information, Mr. Emma Bello, described the safe return of Suntai as a vindication of the state government’s position that the governor was hale and hearty and able to perform his functions.
He said: “Today is a good day for Taraba people. The governor has returned to a tumultuous welcome and we are happy with his arrival in Jalingo.”
The Chief of Staff to the Governor, Ahmed Yusuf, thanked God for the safe arrival of Suntai and expressed happiness that it would lead to peace and stability in the state.
Cultural and religious groups decked in various attires, sang and danced in solidarity with the governor.
Suntai, who arrived the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport from the United States at 1pm in a chartered Gulfstream jet, was immediately taken to a VIP lounge at the airport where he rested for a while before being ferried by another aircraft to Jalingo later in the day.
At the airport to receive the governor, who was clad in a French Safari suit, were former Minister of Defence, General Theophilus Danjuma (rtd.); former Minister of Information, Professor Jerry Gana; Minister of State, Niger Delta, Darius Ishaku; Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, among others.