There is a twist to the Taraba State deal which ceded the running of the state to Deputy Governor Garba Umar, who is to act as governor as Governor Danbaba Suntai stays in the Government House.
Monday’s announcement of the deal by the Senator Hope Uzodinnma Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) fact-finding team was thought to have ended the political impasse sparked by SUntai’s arrival from a 10-month medical trip.
.Uzodinma and his team, who were in Jalingo on Tuesday, also said Umar should be consulting Suntai before taking major decisions.
Yesterday, some House of Assembly members rejected the decision. They accused the committee of taking sides and acting a script prepared by PDP National Chairman Bamanga Tukur.
Majority Leader Joseph Albasu and seven others told reporters that they want “strict compliance with the provisions of the constitution.”
The other lawmakers are: Charles Maijankai, Istifanus Haruna Gbana, Abel Peter Diah, Daniel Ishaya Gani, Mark Useni, Charles Ishaku Audu and Gambo Maikudi.
The lawmakers asked Taraba people and the public to disregard the Uzodinma committee’s pronouncement. “The committee lacks the power to do so,” Albasu said.
The eight lawmakers are also asking President Goodluck Jonathan to ensure that the matter is settled as provided by the constitution.
“We are miffed by Senator Hope Uzodinma’s dubious misadventure and a cocktail of contradictions which he clearly displayed yesterday (Tuesday) at the end of the visit of the PDP fact finding committee to the state,” Albasu said.
He noted that Uzodinma’s “hurriedly contrived solutions” to the constitutional crisis in Taraba had plunged the state into more confusion than it had been.
The lawmakers said a member of the PDP committee, Ahmed Gulak, had quoted President Jonathan as saying “the Taraba issue is a constitutional matter”.
Albasu faulted the panel for even visiting Suntai in the hospital in the U.S. when an injunction granted by the court restrained them from doing so.
He wondered why Uzodinma, who breached court orders and went to visit the governor in New York and said he was impressed with the governor’s recovery is now ordering Suntai to go back to the hospital.
Albasu said Section 190(2) of the constitution only requires the governor to transmit a letter to the House. “Such a letter is not subject to debate by the House,” he said.
The lawmakers said the deputy governor flew with the Uzodinma team from Abuja. “On arrival, they held a closed-door meeting at the Executive Lounge of the Jalingo Airport. Then, they went straight to the Executive Chambers and were about to commence their business before realising that they ought to have seen the governor.”
Albasu said Uzodinma even said the governor was hale and hearty and needed not to go to the market square for people to know that he was fine. “But in what is now the most dubious thing to happen to democracy in Nigeria, Uzodinma announced a power sharing arrangement that Suntai should be a ceremonial head while his deputy should effectively be in charge.
“This is totally unconstitutional and a design to benefit Umar in his relentless quest to unseat his boss who was democratically elected by overwhelming Tarabans.”
The lawmakers said the Uzodinma panel brought lawmakers that are not from PDP to the parley. They also accused the acting governor of mobilising a crowd that was opposed to Suntai to the meeting.
“The court order which restrains the committee has not been set aside; as such the committee has no legal basis to act on the Taraba crisis.
“We want to state that the solution to the leadership crisis of Taraba lies in the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
“It portends great danger, if sensitive constitutional matters of this nature are handled with political manipulation or whims and caprices of certain individuals or groups.”
The lawmakers are praying the court to decide on the letter Suntai transmitted to the House that enmeshed in “orchestrated controversies”.
Speaker Haruna Tsokwa told The Nation that the eight lawmakers were expressing the view of the minority in the House. To him, “legislative function is a game of numbers; 16 of us signed that it should be so.
“When the PDP Fact-Finding Committee came, they met with the leadership of the House and the Majority Leader was there; when they reached the agreement, they didn’t say anything;, when the PDP panel was issuing a statement, they didn’t say anything, today, they are coming out with a different view.”
Tsokwa said the interest of Taraba supersedes individual interest.
“We have Taraba at heart, and what we want is peace. That is why the PDP committee came to resolve the matter,” he said.