Senator, 15 others want court to compel House to remove Suntai

By The Rainbow

Senator Saleh Usman Danboyi and 15 other indigenes of Traba State have approached the Federal High Court in Abuja seeking the removal from office.

,The prayed the court  to compel the Taraba State’s Executive Council and the state House of Assembly to comply with Section 189 of the 1999 Constitution by making the present deputy governor, Garba Umaru, the substantive governor.

The action followed the long absence and health condition of the incumbent governor, Danbaba Suntai.

Governor Suntai was seriously injured in October, 2012 when a small plane he was piloting from Jalingo crashed near Yola airport.

He was briefly treated at the National Hospital, Abuja before being flown to Germany for continued urgent treatment. Despite efforts by PDP officials to paint a rosy picture of Alhaji Suntai's recovery his health has remained complicated.

It was revealed that the governor had suffered significant brain damage that rendered him incapable of recognizing visitors, including members of his family.

He was later moved to the John Hopkins Hospital in the United States for further treatment.

The 16 plaintiffs, through their counsel, Yahaya Mahmood, (SAN), want the court to  determine whether having regard to the provision of section 189 of the 1999 Constitution  and the present health condition of the  governor, the Assembly was constitutionally under obligation to comply with the provisions of section 189(1) of the 1999 Constitution.

According to the provision of the section, “The Governor or Deputy Governor of a State shall cease to hold office if by a resolution passed by two-thirds majority of all members of the executive council of the State, it is declared that the Governor or Deputy Governor is incapable of discharging the functions of his office.”

The plaintiffs also joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Attorney General of the Federation, Attorney General of the state and the state House of Assembly as co-defendants in the suit.

They also asked the court to determine whether in view of the present health condition of the  governor, the defendants, more particularly, the 1st and 2nd defendants were not constitutionally under an obligation to direct that Section 189 of the 1999 Constitution be complied with.

In view of the questions posed to the court, they asked for an order of mandamus compelling the 1st, 2nd and 4th respondents to direct the members of the state executive council to comply with the provisions of Section 189 of the 1999 Constitution.

However, when the case came up Wednesday, the trial judge, Justice Elvis Chukwu, ruled that the suit should have been filed at the Taraba Division of the court, since there was no security threat in the state.

In a 25-paragraph affidavit deposed by  Danboyi, he averred that as indigenes of the state and members of the PDP, the plaintiffs were worried and concerned about the rumoured and suspected incapacitation of the  governor, and his health condition.

He added that the governor’s condition was  affecting the progress and development of the state.

He further averred that the defendants had a duty to take steps to verify the correct health condition of the  ailing governor.

Meanwhile, the Taraba State Elders’ Forum has called for support from all lovers of democracy towards the efforts of the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, to bring peace and harmony to the state chapter of the party.

Reacting to a publication by the Southern Taraba Patriotic Front where Tukur was accused of trying to destabilise the state, the forum wondered why an attempt to bring sanity to the continued stalemate in the state occasioned by the long absence of the governor would amount to destabilisation.

Following the plane crash in which Suntai sustained injuries, the state chapter of the party has remained factionalised.

While applauding the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party for setting up a reconciliation panel, the forum noted that such move would  reinvigorate the  state chapter of the party.

The forum, through its spokesman, Dr. Ignatius Ayum,  alleged that  senator (name withheld) was  sponsoring the Southern Taraba Patriotic Front in order to accomplish his 2015 governorship intention.