In spite of the unfolding controversy over the propriety of the medical fitness of Taraba State Governor, Danbaba Suntai, to govern the state and the political impasse on who is actually ruling the state, uncertainty is now trailing the whereabouts of the ailing governor.
A well informed source who sought anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the matter, confided to LEADERSHIP Friday last night that the governor might have been taken to an unknown destination for urgent medical treatment.
He added that four Hilux buses drove to the airport at about 5p.m yesterday and after some couple of minutes, the private plane that brought the governor to Jalingo on Sunday suddenly took off”.
According to the source, ‘‘the governor is too ill to even recognise his aides, but a group who feel that permutations for who becomes the governor of the state in 2015 will not favour them realised that with the governor away on treatment for so long, they would lose out.
“So, they moved to bring him back. And you can see from the media reports and the different photographs during his return on Sunday that the governor is not in a right frame of mind to do anything. Don’t forget that the governor did not say a single word during that day.
“But when seven members of the House of Assembly met him yesterday, they were shocked on the grounds that he could not recognise any of the lawmakers”.
But another source who gave his name as Joshua Tanimu confessed that the governor is receiving urgent medical attention, claiming that Suntai is currently at the intensive care within the Government House.
He said, “I can confirm to you that Suntai is in Jalingo, but he is in a critical situation, so he is in intensive care. He is closely monitored by doctors”.
LEADERSHIP FRIDAY further gathered from another source at about the time of going to press yesterday that Suntai was sighted in one of the highbrow areas in Abuja for undisclosed reasons.
Acting governor reverses sack order, direct commissioners, others to resume work
But the Acting Governor for the state, Alhaji Garba Umar, has reversed the dissolution of the cabinet by the spokesman of Suntai, which directed the commissioners and the special advisers to hand over to their permanent secretaries.
Umar further asked members of the general public to disregard yesterday’s announcement of the purported dissolution of the State Executive Council and the appointment of a secretary to the state government as well as chief of staff.
In a statement issued yesterday in Jalingo by his press secretary, Mr Kefas Sule and made available to LEADERSHIP Friday, Umar said that the announcement of the dissolution of the state Excos and the appointment of a secretary to the state government as well as chief of staff was a mere attempt by a cabal to hijack the machinery of government in the state.
The acting governor said “The dissolution of the Excos was not a directive by the Executive Governor”.
He also re-assured the people of the state that substantial progress has been made in the ongoing discussion to resolve the misunderstandings of the past few days since the return of Suntai.
The statement added that Umar was happy to note the high sense of patriotism and the brotherly manner with which Tarabians have been viewing and handling the developments, urging them to sustain this in the coming days and weeks ahead.
The statement further reminded all Tarabians that a moment like this calls for greater restraint and vigilance and urged the banks in the state to note that all financial instruments relating to the state government’s accounts should be honoured only if they are in tandem with the provisions of the law.
The statement further states that, “They (financial transactions) must contain verifiable signature of the Executive Governor of Taraba State, His Excellency, Governor Danbaba Danfulani Suntai or the verifiable signature of the acting Governor, Alhaji Garba Umar for the Executive Governor”.
Umar remains the acting governor – Taraba Assembly
Meanwhile, Taraba State House of Assembly has again resolved that the deputy governor of the state upon whom power was earlier transmitted to, by the state assembly still remain the acting governor of the state and will continue to act in that capacity pending the time the governor is capable of piloting the affairs of the state.
In a statement issued by the Taraba Assembly and signed by the Speaker of the Assembly, Hon. Haruna Tsokwa, with signatures of 16 out of 24 members of the house and attached on the statement yesterday in Jalingo, the lawmakers said in view of the latest development on Suntai, they are convinced that he (Suntai) could not have authored the purported letter transmitted to the speaker of the Assembly.
According to the statement, despite several calls to see the ailing governor since his arrival to the state on Sunday, it was only on Wednesday that the leaders of the Assembly were allowed to gain access to Suntai, adding that their visit revealed that the governor spoke in a manner that brought more doubt to his authorship of the letter purportedly transmitted to the speaker of the Assembly.
The statement went further to say the public are all living witnesses to the way and manner the governor was brought in to the state last Sunday, which was why two –thirds members of the Assembly resolved to append their signatures for Umar to remain the acting governor of Taraba State.
Those who appended their signatures are Hon. Tsokwa (the speaker), Hon. Tanko Maikarfi, deputy speaker, Muhammed Gwampo, Chief whip, and Josiah Sabo Kente, deputy majority leader. Others include Hon. Muhammed Umar, deputy chief whip, Ibrahim Adamu Imam, Minority leader, Hon. Yahaya Abdurahman , minority whip, and Hon. Iratsi I. Daki.
On the lists are Hon. Rashida Abdullahi, Hon. Aminu Umar jalingo, Hon Emmanuel Dame, Hon John K. Bonzena, Hon. A.A. Jugulde, Hon. Hammanadama Abdullahi, Hon Abdulkarim Muhammed, as well as Hon. Edward Baraya.
As of the time of filing this report, the vicinity of Taraba Assembly is being surrounded with soldiers and anti-riot policemen who are keeping 24 hours patrol to forestall any break down of law and order at the Assembly Complex.
Also, efforts by LEADERSHIP Friday to speak with any of the eight members who refused to append their signatures proved abortive as one of them contacted on phone told our correspondent that their group is currently holding meeting at the state Assembly and will address journalists in due course.
Taraba sacked commissioners handed over to perm sec
But the commissioners had handed over government facilities to the permanent secretaries in their various ministry before Umar reversed the order, our correspondent who went round the various ministries at the state capital yesterday in Jalingo confirmed that the sacked commissioners from the ministries had complied with the directive of Suntai.
The former commissioner of finance, Mr Iliya Wanapia and also the former commissioner overseeing the ministry of works told LEADERSHIP Friday yesterday in Jalingo that he had since handed over all government property under his care to the permanent secretary in his former ministry.
“I am not a commissioner again, and as I am speaking with you, I am a very free man now”, he said.
At the other ministry where LEADERSHIP Friday visited, the permanent secretaries in those ministries confirmed to our correspondent that their former commissioners had handed over all government facilities under their care to them respectively as directed by Governor Suntai.
In a visit to the ministry of environment and urban development, the permanent secretary in the ministry, Alhaji Umar Julde Dakka told LEADERSHIP Friday that the commissioner in his ministry is yet to hand over government facilities under his care to him due to his engagement in an official assignment in Abuja.
He also said that between Friday and Monday, the commissioner would hand over all government property under his possession.
The special assistant to the Governor on media and publicity, Mr Slyvanus Yakubu Giwa had earlier announced the dissolution of the cabinet and directed the commissioners to hand over to their permanent secretaries.