Nigeria: Suntai’s letter not written by him, says Taraba Assembly
Insists governor not fit to work, deputy to take over
A DECLARATION by the Taraba State House of Assembly Thursday that Governor Danbaba Suntai was still recuperating underscored the lawmakers’ opposition to his bid to resume work.
In fact, the lawmakers stated that a letter transmitted to the House seeking approval for Suntai to resume his constitutional duties was not written by him but by those bent on governing the state by proxy.
In a statement endorsed by 16 out of the 24 members of the House, the Speaker, Haruna Tsokwa, said the recent visit of the leadership of the House to the governor showed that he was still recovering.
The statement noted that the House leaders visited Suntai on August 28 and that they were convinced that governor could not have written the letter transmitted to the Speaker.
Consequently, the House, according to the Speaker, has resolved that the deputy governor of the state, Garba Umar, “remains the acting governor of the state and would continue to act in that regard until a time Suntai is capable to govern the state.”
The statement noted: “The leadership of Taraba State House of Assembly made several efforts to see the governor since his arrival, until yesterday, August 28, 2013, that they were allowed access to the ailing governor and their visit revealed that he spoke in the 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 he 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 to whom power was earlier transmitted by the state House of Assembly still remains the Acting Governor of Taraba State and will continue to act in that regard until such a time the governor is capable of administering the state.”
The need to bring to book those behind the letter, The Guardian learnt, has now become a source of concern to the people of the state who have vowed to embark on a mass protest should the authority fails to expose them.
“This is indeed a scandalous act. The perpetrators of such an act should be fished out and made to pay dearly for that because this is the mother of all forgeries,” the state Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) Chairman, Hamidu Suleiman, said.
Some of the lawmakers had refused to acknowledge the letter, pending when the governor would address the people through the House of Assembly.
This development has made members of the House to be divided, with some wanting Suntai to resume and others opposing it.
Amid this controversy, security personnel have taken over the streets of Jalingo as they continue to patrol them.
Condemning the political crisis, the leader of Coalition of Northern Civil Society, Shehu Sani, has warned that it is capable of tarnishing the image of the nation’s democracy.
“Taraba State is in the grip of power-hungry and desperate cult hell-bent on plunging the state into a deeper political crisis,” he said.
Sani also condemned the kidnap of a lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome, saying that his abduction exposed the reality of the level of insecurity in the country, which the government had failed to address.
In a statement issued in Kaduna yesterday, Sani who is also the President of Civil Rights Congress (CRC), said: “Governor Suntai’s alleged letter written to the state House of Assembly through the Majority Leader makes no sensible meaning… Mr. Suntai did not formally write when he was flown out of the country in October last year, and as such, he should make a physical appearance before the state House of Assembly to confirm and validate his return.”
He continued: “Suntai cannot take back his seat until and unless he convenes and presides over the state executive council meeting. The dissolution of the Taraba executive council by ‘Suntai’ is nothing but a scripted handiwork of parasites and cronies profiteering from the plight of Governor Suntai.”
The civil society leader stressed: “Governor Suntai deserves all the medical attention needed to return him to good health but not at the expense of the stipulations of the constitution and the rule of law. The desperation to cling on to power by Governor Suntai’s gang stands unreservedly condemned.
“Carting an ailing man from the hospital bed to the seat of power for political gains is inhuman and ungodly. Suntai needs health recovery not power recovery. He needs bed rest not power nest.”
He then urged two Middle Belt governors, those of Plateau and Benue states, to immediately intervene in the political logjam in Taraba State.
“I call on Governors David Jang and Gabriel Suswam of Plateau and Benue States to act responsibly and help in ensuring due process of law is applied in Taraba. Those who claim to be friends of Suntai should not force an ailing man on the people of Taraba.”
On its part, Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) yesterday warned that the Taraba crisis could threaten the country’s democracy.
In a statement by its National Chairman, Ibrahim Zikirullah, the group urged Suntai to respect the wishes of members of the Taraba House of Assembly before he resumes office in the interest of peace.
Canvassing the intervention of the leadership of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to save Nigeria from another untold embarrassment as witnessed in the case of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua by ensuring that rule of law prevails, the group lauded the courage and wisdom of Taraba State House of Assembly for calling on the governor to personally address the Assembly to ascertain his physical and mental fitness to continue his job as the Chief Executive Officer of the state.
Calling on the Nigerian political class to conduct their activities, utterances and behaviour in a manner that would save the country from crisis, the TMG said that it was unethical to shield necessary information concerning the governor’s health from the public, most especially the people that elected him to office.