Akin Akande, Abuja
A Federal High Court sitting Abuja has been asked to compel the executive council and the Taraba state House of Assembly to comply with Section 189 of the 1999 Constitution to confirm Deputy Governor of the state, Alh. Garba Umaru, the substantive governor following the long absence and health condition of the governor Danbaba Suntai.
The plaintiffs numbering 16 and led by Senator Saleh Usman Danboyi, had through their counsel Yahaya Mahmood SAN approached the court to determine whether having regards to the provision of section 189 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and present health condition of Mr. Danbaba Suntai, the State House of Assembly is constitutionally under obligation to comply with the provisions of the section.
Section 189(1) of the 1999 Constitution provides that “The Governor or Deputy Governor of a State shall cease to hold office if by a resolution passed by two-thirds majority of all members of the executive council of the State, it is declared that the Governor or Deputy Governor is incapable of discharging the functions of his office”.
Joined as defendants are the Peoples Democratic Party, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the Attorney General of Taraba state and the Taraba State House of Assembly.
They further want the court to determine whether in view of the present health condition of the substantive Governor of the state, the defendants, particularly the 1st and 2nd defendants are not constitutionally under obligation to direct that Section 189 of the 1999 constitution be complied with.
In view of the questions posed to the court, they pray for an order of mandamus compelling the 1st, 2nd and 4th respondents to direct the members of the executive council of Taraba state to comply with the provisions of Section 189 of the 1999 constitution.
However, when the case came up on Wednesday,the presiding judge, Justice Evan Chukwu, held that the suit should be filed at the Taraba division of the court since there is no security threat in the state and referred the plaintiffs to the Taraba division of the court.
In a 25 paragraph affidavit deposed to by Senator Saleh Usman Damboyi, he averred that as indegenes of Taraba state and members of the PDP, the plaintiffs are worried and concerned about the rumoured and suspected incapacitation of the substantive governor, and his health condition, and the condition is affecting the progress and development of the state.
He further averred that the defendants have a duty to take steps to verify the correct health condition of the substantive ailing governor, permanent incapacity or otherwise.
Governor Danbaba Suntai has been out of the country for medical attention, following severe injuries he sustained when the helicopter he piloted crashed in Adamawa state.