Indications emerged yesterday that a “cabal” is trying to orchestrate the impeachment of both Taraba State Acting Governor Garba Umar and Governor Danbaba Suntai if a medical panel recently announced by Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Josiah Sabo Kente, finds Suntai unfit to resume official duties.
The acting governor, who disclosed this in an interview aired yesterday, said the plan is for both him and recuperating Gov. Suntai to be removed from office at the same time so that the unnamed “cabal” will seize power illegally.
Suntai returned to Nigeria last week after 14 weeks in the United Kingdom for further treatment of injuries he sustained in a plane crash in October 2012.
While his associates claim that he is fully recovered and ready to take charge of the affairs of Taraba, the acting governor has insisted that there is no sufficient evidence to prove that his boss has recovered and has thus held onto power.
Following the receipt of a letter from the State Executive Council to the House of Assembly, a five-member medical panel, which is yet to be inaugurated, was set up to determine Suntai’s health status. Based on constitutional provisions, the governor would have to be removed if the panel determines that he is not fit to discharge his responsibilities.
Speaking in an interview on the Hausa Service of the BBC aired yesterday, Umar lambasted those he called part of a cabal that wanted to seize power illegally in Taraba, just as he insisted there was no rift between him and the governor himself, but that some associates were trying to drive a wedge between them for their own selfish ends.
Asked to comment on the alleged plans to remove him along with Suntai, Umar said, “Yes. That is what they think. Since they are saying my boss and me should be impeached, it means they are not with him.
“They are lying; they just want to seize power illegally and there is no law that permits doing that in this country. The constitution must be abided by.
“And I don’t even know what offence I committed that would warrant my impeachment”.
The acting governor justified the decision of the State Executive Council to ask for a medical panel to be set up to ascertain the true state of the governor’s health, saying persistent claims by Suntai’s associates that he was fit enough was suspect. He, however, debunked the notion that the request was aimed at removing his boss to pave the way for him to be declared the substantive governor.
Umar said, “The issue of removal depends on the outcome of the medical panel. We just want to know the truth of his health status. Even me I don’t get to see him. I only see his photos just like you do in photographs and on TV”.
He continued: “It is 22 months now that I have been acting as the governor…. All this while, I have never thought of anything like impeachment. But some people have continued to cause panic.
“I have been obedient to my boss, yet people will always say he is coming back to take over power. That is why we are trying to ascertain his health condition and then inform the world”.
Umar also said he was not desperate to hold onto power, and was willing to relinquish it to his boss whenever he was found to be healthy enough.
“Any time he comes and calls me to ask me to give back power to him, I will do that”.
He also recounted how he was blocked from receiving Suntai at the airport in Abuja last week upon the governor’s return from the UK.
“When the governor was returning, I had the information and I went to welcome him. But they told me he was going to land at the old wing of the airport, after keeping people at both wings in a clear deceit”, Umar said.
“I went there and waited, only for me to be told later he had since landed at the other wing. Before I could rush to the tarmac, he was put into a car and driven away immediately”, he said pointing out that throughout the 10 months that Suntai spent in Taraba after his first medical trip, Umar was allowed to see him only once.