Confusion in Taraba as Speaker, Majority Leader disagree on Suntai's status

By The Rainbow

The return of injured Taraba Stae Governor Danbaba Suntai has sparked fresh controversy in Taraba State.

The theatre of action is the State House of Assembly, which is sharply divided over the true status of health of the governor, who returned to the country on Sunday.

House of Assembly Speaker Haruna Tsokwa said Alhaji Garba Umar remains the acting governor, until the House deliberates on Governor Danbaba Suntai's letter.

But the Majority Leader of the House has a different stand.

The Majority Leader said: 'Pharm. Danbaba Suntai, who is the Executive Governor of Taraba State, has transmitted a letter to this very House, indicating his intention to resume work and take over the functions of the state as the executive governor.

'The letter was caused and addressed to the Taraba State House of Assembly, and I, as the Majority Leader, being the Chairman of the business of this Assembly, received the letter.

'The Clerk of the House acknowledged the letter and handed over to the Speaker of the Taraba State House of Assembly, Hon. Haruna Tsokwa.

'Governor Suntai has complied with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in Section 190(2).'

The speaker briefed reporters in his office after the House Majority Leader, Hon. Joseph Albasu, declared that Suntai had taken charge.

Tsokwa said: 'Governor Danbaba Suntai has transmitted a letter to the House, but his deputy, Alhaji Garba Umar, will continue to act, until this Assembly deliberates on the letter.'

He said he was unaware of the House Majority Leader's statement.

The speaker said Suntai must appear on the floor of the House and speak to lawmakers, or some principal officers of the House must go and talk to him in the Government House.

Tsokwa said Suntai's wife, Hajiya Hauwa, blocked some officials from seeing the governor yesterday.

Tsokwa became the speaker when Istifanus Haruna Gbana, an ally of Suntai, was removed while the governors was still in the hospital. Suntai arrived in Jalingo on Sunday after a 10-month stay in German and American hospitals.

He was injured when a plane he piloted crashed near Yola, Adamawa State, on October 25, last year.

On Monday, he transmitted a letter to the House of Assembly, informing lawmakers of his readiness to begin work.

Albasu told reporters at the Assembly Complex, Jalingo, that the House received the governor's letter and gave him the go-ahead to take charge, having fulfilled the provision of the Constitution.

Albasu is representing Lau Constituency. Tsokwa was not present, but Albasu said he was speaking for all the House members. With him were: Hon. Charles Maijankai (Karim-Lamido Constituency), Ishaya Gani (Wukari) and another member.

It was gathered that the lawmakers might deliberate on the letter on Wednesday (today).

The speaker, who claimed that he was  unaware of the claims by the  Majority Leader, also confirmed earlier reports  that  Suntai's wife  blocked  him  from seeing   her husband  on Tuesday.

Tsokwa became the speaker when Istifanus Haruna Gbana -an ally of  Suntai, was  removed while Suntai was still  receiving treatment abroad for injuries he sustained last October when a small plane he piloted crashed.

Reports indicate that  apart from the speaker, who led a delegation to the Government House,   Alhaji Umar;  the  Commissioner in charge of the state Police Command  and the Director of State Security Service    were  prevented from   seeing the governor    by Suntai's  family members and influential associates  on Tuesday.