12th June, 2013
A Federal high Court siting in Abuja on Wednesday declined to wade into a suit relating to the health condition of Taraba State Governor, Danbaba Suntai and the effect it was having on the development of the state as it ordered the transfer of a suit seeking to make the present acting governor a substantive one.
Some indigenes of the state led by Senator Usman Danboyi, had approached the court asking it to compel the executive council and the House of Assembly of Taraba State to comply with Section 189 of the 1999 Constitution by making the present deputy governor, Garba Umaru, the substantive governor in view of the long absence and health condition of Governor Suntai.
They want the court to determine whether having regards to the provision of section 189 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the present health condition of Governor Suntai, that the state 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 in the suit are the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, 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 state governor, the defendants, particularly the PDP and the AGF, are not constitutionally under an obligation to direct that Section 189 of the 1999 constitution be complied with.
In view of the questions posed to the court, they prayed for an order of mandamus compelling the PD, AGF and the Taraba State House of Assembly, to direct the members of the executive council of Taraba state to comply with the provisions of Section 189 of the 1999 constitution.
However, at a short ruling delivered Wednesday by the presiding judge, Justice Elvis Chukwu, the court declined to entertain the matter and ordered that the suit be transfered to the Taraba division of the federal high court since there is no security challenges or threats in that state.
In a 25 paragraph affidavit deposed to by Senator Damboyi, he averred that as indigenes of Taraba State and members of the PDP, they are worried and concerned about the rumoured and suspected incapacitation of the substantive governor, and his health condition, and that this 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.