Saturday, August 31, 2013

Taraba assembly to Suntai: Go back to US hospital

Barely 24 hours after Governor Danbaba Suntai, addresed the people of Taraba State through a recorded video,  the state House of Assembly on Thursday  advised him to return to the hospital  in the United States where he was on admission for further treatment.
The assembly, in a statement by its Speaker, Haruna  Tsokwa, and 15 other  members, also reaffirmed Alhaji Garba Umar as the acting governor of the state.

The lawmakers   claimed  that  before Wednesday, all their  efforts  to meet with the recuperating governor, who arrived in Jalingo on Sunday from the  US,  were rebuffed by people close to him.
They  pointed out  that from the manner the governor spoke when they finally  met with him on Wednesday,  they  doubted  that he  authored the letter in which he informed them of his return and desire to resume work.
Continue After The Break.

According to the lawmakers,  their advice to the governor  and the position on who was in charge of  governance in the state,  were  in the interest of the  people.
“Be that as it may, we the undersigned members of the state assembly have unanimously resolved in our meeting that the deputy governor, upon whom power was earlier transmitted 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,” they added in the  statement
“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 the speaker,”the lawmakers  said.
The other legislators that signed the statement are  Tsokwa’s deputy, Tanko Maikarfi; Chief Whip, Mohammed Gwampo; and  the Deputy Majority Leader, Josiah Kente.

Others are  the Deputy Chief Whip, Mohammed Umar; the Minority Leader, Ibrahim Imam;   the Minority Whip, Yahya AbdulRahman;    Iratsi Daki, Rashida Abdullahi, Aminu Umar, Emmanuel Dame, John Bonzena, Dr Abubakar Jugulde, Hamman  Abdullahi, Abdulkarim Mohammed and Edward Baraya.
But an aide to Suntai and former  Commissioner for Information in the state,  Emmanuel Bello, dismissed the claim by the legislators that  the governor was unfit to continue in office.

He told an online news portal, on the telephone that the lawmakers who signed the statement did so  according to “the figment of their imagination”.
  Bello, who said he still speaks for   Suntai, described the action of the lawmakers as “null and void,” saying “they do not have the constitutional power to determine whether somebody is sick.”
He said it was only “medical experts that have the power to determine the state of health of a person.”
“What yardsticks and parameters  did they use to say the governor is not fit?  These people visited the governor yesterday (Wednesday) and he recognised all of them by their faces and names;  it is totally unfair of them to turn around and say he is unfit to rule,” he added.
Bello, who claimed that Suntai could  “read, write and sign documents;” asked, “What is the standard of who a governor should be?”
“These people are not fair to his Excellency, and they are wicked. Taraba people are not with them, and even the Majority Leader of the House has disassociated himself from them. What they are doing is unconstitutional and a violation of  Nigerian laws,” he said.
 Bello also stated that as long as the lawmakers  did not subject the governor to medical checks, they had no reason to state that he was unfit for office.
“Have they subjected the governor to medical check? Can they give us a medical report? As far as the people of Taraba are concerned, the governor is not sick; he addressed them yesterday(Wednesday) and they are satisfied with his state of health,” he said.
Umar, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Kefas Sule  insisted that he remained the acting governor of the state.
He described the dissolution of the state Executive Council as “a mere attempt by a cabal to hijack the machinery of government in the state and not a directive given by  Governor Danbaba Suntai.”
Umar therefore  advised members of the public to ignore the sack of the  Chief of Staff, the Secretary to the State Government, commissioners and  special advisers.
The statement reads , “His Excellency, the acting governor wishes to remind Tarabans that a moment like this calls for greater restraint and vigilance. To this end, the bankers of the Taraba State Government are reminded to note that all financial instruments relating to the state government’s account should be honored only if they are in tandem with the provisions of the law, in which case, must contain:
• A veritable signature of the executive governor of Taraba State, His Excellency, Governor Danbaba Suntai, or
• A veritable signature of the acting governor of Taraba State, His Excellency, Alhaji   Umar, acting for the executive governor.
“Members of the public should ignore yesterday’s (Wednesday) announcement of the purported dissolution of the state executive council and the appointment of a new SSG as well as CoS.”
But a  Senior Advocate of Nigeria,  Sebastine Hon,  also faulted the lawmakers and  asked  Suntai to  go about his lawful business of governing the state.

 Hon, a specialist in constitutional law, argued that the assembly had by its action shown the level of ignorance of  its leadership.
He asked, “Under what law, substantive and procedural, did the assembly bring out the so-called statement? It is settled law that the business of the legislature is done through resolutions and lawmaking and not through press statements.
“And even then, legislative business can only be lawfully done during plenary on the floor of the House and not in private or other premises.
Another  lawyer,  Mr Kayode Ajulo,  called on the Speaker of the state assembly to institute a  five-man medical team to examine the fitness of   Suntai.
He told the News Agency of Nigeria    in Abuja  on Thursday that the panel should include the personal physician to the governor.
Ajulo said, “The Speaker of the  assembly , Alhaji  Tsokwa, has the power under the 1999 Constitution   to set up a medical panel to ascertain the fitness of the governor.
“Section 189 (4a) and (4b) states that in a case where the governor is showing unfitness of sorts,  the Speaker  shall  constitute a  five-member medical panel to which  the ‘personal  physician of the governor must be a member,’’
It was gathered in Jalingo that with this   action of  the lawmakers, they might  commence impeachment moves against the governor.
Suntai was flown out of the country for urgent medical treatment following injuries he sustained in a plane crash in October 2012.The governor, shortly after his arrival, wrote to the 24-member  assembly informing it of    his  readiness to resume office.
The assembly, however, asked him to appear before it to enable it to decide on his request. Instead of accepting the invitation, Suntai dissolved the state executive council on Wednesday  and appointed a former  Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Timothy Kataps, as a  new Secretary to the State Government  and Alhaji Aminu Jika  as  Chief of Staff, Government House.
Meanwhile, the Police authorities   said on Thursday that  they were still studying the petition of Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) seeking a probe of the letter of intention to resume duty purportedly sent to the  assembly  by  Suntai.
Falana had on Tuesday given a three-day ultimatum to the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, to probe  the letter  which he alleged might have been forged.
Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, on Thursday confirmed to our correspondent via sms that the police had received Falana’s petition.
“Yes, we have received the petition. We are currently studying the petition,” Mba’s message read.

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