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Stalemate in Taraba as security chiefs shun acting Governor's meeting

By The Rainbow

A clear indication that the refusal of members of the Taraba State House of Assembly to accord due recognition to the letter transmitted to the House by Governor Danbaba Suntai might backfire emerged on Friday as security chiefs in the state appear to have different ideas.

The position of the House is seen as unconstitutional in many quarters.

Reports indicate that  several prominent indigenes of the state have asked the state Assembly to take the necessary steps to enable the governor resume his duties officially.

Suntai through the transmitted to the House earlier in the week sough to  resume as the governor after a 10-month medical treatment abroad, following a plane crash last year, but  16 members of the House, who constitute a majority, opposed the move on the grounds that 'he is not fit.'

They rather asked the governor to return abroad to continue with his treatment and directed the Acting Governor, Alhaji Garba Umar, to continue in that capacity.

It was on the strength of the House's order that  Umar directed  members of the state cabinet who Suntai sacked to  ignore the 'purported' sack.

The acting governor, however, found out on Friday that he might be backing the wrong tree when  when all the security chiefs in the state shunned an earlier security meeting he had convened.

Umar and his team, which includes the sacked Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and the Chief of Staff, Ahmed Yusuf, who were in the executive chamber of the Government House, were disappointed when all the security chief failed to turn up for the meeting.

Reacting to the lawmakers' action, former attorney general and commissioner for justice in the state, Gebon Timothy Kataps, said their position on the governor's letter was unconstitutional, insisting that they had no legal right to prevent the governor from resuming office 'since he has transmitted the necessary letter to them.'

Speaking in the same vein, an aide to the governor said as far as the state was concerned, the governor had assumed duty, irrespective of the position of the House 'because the steps needed to be taken by him had been made through the letter he forwarded to the state Assembly.'

A prominent lawyer in the state, who would also not want his name in print, was quoted by a national daily (The GUARDIAN) as saying : 'The position of the law, as regards this issue is very clear. It is not something that should have factionalised the House.

'We expected them to first of all seek proper interpretation of the law as it concerns the transmission of letter by the governor to them.

Unfortunately, instead of taking such steps, they went ahead to do the wrong thing.'

He Stressed: 'I said 'wrong thing,' because what they have done or what they are doing is capable of throwing this state into crisis.

'Constitutionally, they have no right to prevent the governor, who claimed that he is strong enough to resume his work, from doing that.

'Are they his doctors? If his doctors who are with him every time did not advise him to stay away from office, who are they to now come out and declare him unfit.

'That statement alone is enough for our courts to punish such persons, because they have no single medical documents with them that stated that the governor is not strong or fit enough to govern.'

For his own part, the member representing Wukari 11 Constituency in the House of Assembly and Chairman of its Committee on Information, Ishaya Gani, warned that the steps being taking by some of his colleagues were capable of throwing the state 'into anarchy.'

Accusing the Speaker, Haruna Tsokwa, of allowing himself to be used to 'destabilise the state,' the lawmaker urged the PDP leadership and the Presidency to urgently intervene to save 'the poor people of Taraba State' from unnecessary distress by politicians.

However, Mr. Danjuma Munga, a renowned politician, has thrown his weight behind the action of the 16 lawmakers, who he said had done the right thing.

He argued: 'It is only when you are physically fit that you can carry out your legitimate duty.

'I think Suntai should even be grateful to those members, because they only asked him to go for further treatment; they did not remove him as governor…'

Munga added: 'If you weigh the two sides of the coin properly, you would discover that those claiming that they love the governor don't even love him as much as those 16 members who decided to excuse him, pending when he is hale and healthy.

'As far as I am concerned, these members have done nothing wrong. After all they did not impeach the governor. If they had wanted him impeached, I believe they would have gone ahead and done that and nobody would have made noise.

'So, what is the all noise about?'
A medical officer in support of the action of the 16 lawmakers, noted that to 'some extent, they may be right, because they have met with him and seen his physical appearance, which must have shown that he is not yet fit.

'All we are praying for now is for the relevant authority to step in and resolve the crisis, because if it finally erupts, I don't think the security operatives here can contain it.

'So, let us stop shifting blames and look for a lasting solution,' he surmised.

Security has been beefed up in various parts of the state capital, following the tension that has been generated by the raging controversy.

Some of the security agents said they were on high alert to deal with any security situation in the state.

Meanwhile, lawmakers under the aegis of Conference of Speakers of the State Legislators of Nigeria have described the unfolding  political face-off between the Taraba State House of Assembly and ailing  Governor Danbaba Suntai as unwarranted.

Chairman of the group and Speaker of Gombe State House of Assembly, Hon. Inuwa Garba who addressed newsmen in Abuja yesterday, said members were dismayed by the political developments in the state but urged the Taraba House of Assembly to remain resolute in the discharge of its constitutional responsibilities.

'We have analyzed the scenario and agreed that the seeming political face-off in the state is unnecessary and unwarranted. Overheating the polity of Taraba in the name of politics at a time the state is in dire need of peace and development is not in the best interest of the good people of Taraba State and Nigeria as a whole.

'We encourage all concerned to resist any undue internal and external interference capable of creating religious, ethnic and political discord among the diverse people of the state even as we call on them to remain calm and law-abiding', he said.

A man must do what he must, irrespective of personal consequences.
By: Ola Thomas