Danladi resumes office as Taraba Deputy Governor… Dismantles Umar's structures

By The Citizen

The former Deputy Governor of Taraba State, and now the Acting Governor courtesy of a Supreme Court judgement, Alhaji Sanni Abubakar Danladi, has nullified all political appointments made by the sacked erstwhile Acting Governor of the state, Alhaji Garba Umar.

He took the decision yesterday in Jalingo, the state capital, shortly after resuming office.

Danladi, who was impeached two years ago by members of the state House of Assembly, was yesterday reinstated by the Supreme Court.

A visibly elated Danladi commended the Supreme Court for reinstating him, said that 'the judgment is further assurance to all aggrieved persons to always seek readdress in the court, rather than taking laws into their hands.'

Aligning his actions with the policies of Governor Danbaba Suntai, Danladi said relevant consultations were made with the governor before arriving at the decision to nullify all the political appointments made by Umar.

He directed all the affected persons to, as a matter of urgency, hand over within 24 hours.

'After due consultations with my boss, I hereby nullify all political appointments made from November 14, 2012 to date'. He stressed that the appointments were 'illegally carried out;' hence all those affected 'should within 24 hours hand over government properties,” he stated.

He admonished traditional and religious leader not to relent in their roles of ensuring the sustainability of peace in their various domains, saying: 'In the last two years, the state has witnessed crises and the present administration will not tolerate further shedding of blood.'

Danladi expressed government's readiness to stand by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to ensure that a level playing ground is provided for all aspirants in the next year's elections.

He also urged the people, irrespective of their religion and ethnic backgrounds, to give the government the much-need cooperation to 'flush out all the undesirable elements from our midst.'

He restated his commitment to always consult with Suntai before taking any official decision, warning those plotting ways to divide the people along religious lines to as a matter of urgency seek alternative means of livelihood.

It could be recalled that the Supreme Court had yesterday nullified his impeachment as Deputy Governor by the State House of Assembly in October 2012 and ordered his immediate re-instatement.

In a unanimous verdict, the apex court held that the impeachment panel set up by the House of Assembly to investigate allegations against Danladi breached his constitutionally guaranteed rights to fair hearing provided for under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

Delivering the lead judgment, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta held that there was a semblance of conspiracy between the Taraba State High Court and the impeachment panel to frustrate the appellant.

Other Justices in the panel are Samuel Onnoghen, Bode Rhodes-Vivour, Kumayi Aka'ahs, Kudirat Kekere-Ekun and John Okoro.

The court also held that it was illegal for the 19 members of the Assembly to sit at an apartment owned by the Majority Leader to prepare the impeachment notice. It also held that the lawmakers violated Section 188 of the 1999 Constitution.

Justice Ngwuta said the impeachment panel was a kangaroo panel that was in a conspiracy with the lawmakers to get rid of the appellant and therefore threw constitutionality to the dogs because of their desperate conspiracy.

'My noble Lords, the impact of what happened in the panel on the country's impeachment jurisprudence is too alarming to contemplate.

'Here is a panel that had three whole months to investigate the serious allegations of gross misconduct against the appellant, a Deputy Governor of the state. For no apparent reasons for the indecent haste, the panel completed its sitting and prepared and submitted its report to the Taraba State House of Assembly between September 28‎ and October 3, 2012, a period of six days inclusive of the first and last dates.

'From the undisputed facts of this case, one has the inevitable, but disturbing impression that the panel composed of the respondents was a mere sham and that the removal of the appellant from office was a done deal as it were.

'In my view, the respondents, in their purported investigation of the allegation made against the appellant, merely played out a script previously prepared and handed over to the panel.

'The most disturbing aspect of the kangaroo panel is that it was headed by a man described in the processes before this court as a Barrister; one Barrister Nasiru Audu‎ Dangiri. The third member of the panel was also described as a Barrister; one Barrister ‎R.J. Ikitausai.

'If these two men are actually members of the noble profession to which your Lordships and my humble self, by the grace of God‎, have the honour to belong and not people who, for self aggrandisement adopted the nomenclature 'barrister,' the harm they have deliberately perpetrated in this matter is so serious that the attention of the Disciplinary Committee of the Bar ought to be drawn to it.

'Impeachment of elected ‎politicians is a very serious matter and should not be conducted as a matter of course. The purpose is to step aside the Will of the electorate, as expressed at the polls. It has implications for the impeached, as well as the electorate, who bestowed the mandate on him.

'Whether it takes one day or the three months prescribed by law, the rules of due process must be strictly followed. If the matter is left at the whims and caprices‎ of politicians and their panels, a state or even the entire country could be reduced to a status of Banana Republic,' he said.