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Taraba Saga: Lawmakers Shun Court Order, Screen New Commissioners

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Agabus Pwanagba, Lagos

The power tussle in Taraba State took another dimension on Tuesday as members of the State House of Assembly disregarded a court order restraining them from screening the new commissioner nominees and went ahead to screen them.

Ailing Governor Danbaba Suntai

Ailing Governor Danbaba Suntai of Taraba State

The Lawmakers had resumed sitting on Tuesday, sitting one hour ahead of the stipulated time and hurriedly screened the nominees, claiming ignorance of any court order.

The sitting was however without a drama as some members said they received the court order and advised the newly-elected speaker, Mr. Josiah Kente, on the illegality of continuing with the exercise.

Four members, led by the former speaker, Istifanus Haruna Gbana and former Deputy Speaker, Abel Peter Diah, thereafter stormed out of House, vowing not to partake in the exercise.

The screening which was earlier scheduled for 10.a.m was said to have been hurriedly conducted as early as 9.am so as to frustrate the court from carrying out it plans of halting the House from the screening exercise.

The Speaker, after the sitting, told journalists that he did not receive the court order.

He said, “The members decided to go ahead with the screening because we did not receive the court order.”

But Diah told journalists that they decided not to participate in the sitting “because we were served the court order restraining us from screening the commissioner nominees.

He said. “On receiving the order we showed it to the speaker and advised him on the right steps and when he insisted to go ahead and screen the commissioner, some of us decided to leave because we don’t want to be part of the process.

Gbana explained how the bailiff of the high court that brought the court order was manhandled by both the aides of the speaker and the security operatives.

Markus Gaddas, who is the bailiff when contacted, corroborated the former speaker’s story, saying that he was dehumanized at the office of the speaker while carrying out his lawful duties.

He further explained that, “When I got to the assembly, I asked of the clerk of the House and I was told he was not in, so I asked after the speaker because I did not know him in person. On the arrival of the speaker, I followed him to his office but waited for him at his reception. When he eventually came out of his office, I gave him the Order and as well showed him my I. D card, but he went ahead to pushed me away.

“Before I knew someone else came and told me that the speaker has directed that I should be carried out of the premises of the House of Assembly. While outside the Assembly premises, I also tried to paste the Order on the main gate but that was not possible because one of
the policemen came and tore the Order into pieces.

It would be recalled that, Justice Ali Andeyantso of Taraba High Court had, on Monday, issued an order restraining the legislators from screening and considering the six nominees whose names were submitted by the acting Governor Garba Umar, on Monday.

Andeyantso was ruling on a motion filed by the governor through his counsel, E. A. Nnyaro, which sought to restrain the assembly fromscreening and appointing the nominees into the Taraba State executive pending the determination of the motion on notice.

Governor Danbaba Suntai, had on August 26, upon his return from a 10-month medical treatment in Germany and the United States of America following injuries he sustained in an air crash, dissolved the state executive council.

The court ruling, obtained by African Examiner on Tuesday said, “Upon hearing E. A. Nyaro, counsel to the plaintiff, it is hereby ordered as follows; By an order of interim injunction, the defendants (Taraba House of Assembly), are retrained either by themselves, their agents, servants or assign from acting upon or taking any action or further actions or doing anything in any manner or otherwise in relation to the letter (Exhibit ‘F’) forwarded to the defendants by the Deputy governor of Taraba State purportedly acting as governor of Taraba state, seeking the defendants’ approval for him to appoint persons contained in the said letter into Taraba State executive council pending the hearing and determination of motion on notice no.
TRSJ/306m/13 filed on September 2, 2013”

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