Abuja — The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) has called on the Taraba State House of Assembly to set up a medical panel to examine the state of health of Gov. Danbaba Suntai.
This came just as members of the Taraba State House of Assembly, Tuesday gave the nod to recuperating Governor Danbaba Suntai to resume work based on his claim that he was fit enough to carry on with the task of administering the state.
But as at Tuesday, many natives of the state were still divided over the true state of the governor's health with a section fearing that the frail-looking governor, who returned to Jalingo on Sunday after ten months of overseas treatment, was not fit enough to return to work.
The CNPP National Publicity Secretary, Mr Osita Okechukwu, made the call on Tuesday in Abuja.
Okechukwu reacted to the alleged moves to allow Suntai resume duties as the governor of the state.
He said this was in accordance with the provision of the constitution which stipulates that a medical panel should be set up to determine health status of the governor in such circumstances.
Suntai returned on Aug. 24 after a 10-month treatment abroad following injuries he sustained from a plane crash in 2012.
Okechukwu said that the constitution also provided for Suntai's personal physician to be on the medical panel to certify the true state of his health.
"We thank God that the man survived the accident, but in spite of that, the constitutional provision must be strictly adhered to in such circumstance.
"The House of Assembly should immediately set up a medical panel to investigate the matter and to determine if Suntai is capable or incapable of carrying out his constitutional functions.
"If Suntai is found to be sound, for God sake, he should continue with his functions, but if incapable, he should hand over to the acting governor," he said.
Okechukwu, who is a chieftain of the All Progressive Congress (APC), insisted that the provisions of the constitution should be adhered to at all times.
He said that the constitution made clear provisions on what should be done to ascertain the medical fitness or otherwise of a governor or the president.
In his reaction, Mr Yusuf Tanko, Chairman of Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), also said that the governor's health status be established before any action could be taken.
According to him, if it is established that Suntai is unable to carry out his duties, the acting governor should take over his functions.
Citing the case of the late President Umaru Ya'adua, whose vice took over his duties when he was incapacitated, he advised that the constitution should be adhered to totally.
"It is in the interest of democracy that the Suntai's health situation is established.
"If he is found incapable, there are constitutional provision that should be followed, otherwise we will continue to put democracy in danger," Tanko said.
He said the right thing should be done so that "we should not be seen to be panel-beating a bad situation".
Tanko said the right decision should be taken devoid of any personal interests "because democracy suffers when there is discord between the electorate and the elected".
An Abuja-based legal practitioner, Mr Okoi Obono-Obla, urged the Taraba assembly to urgently set up a panel of medical experts to ascertain the true state of Suntai's health.
Obono-Obla, however, noted that there was nothing wrong for a governor to communicate to the assembly that he wanted to resume his duties as the governor of the state.
He said Section 189 of the Constitution empowered the assembly to take action in this instant case to find out whether Suntai was capable of handling his responsibilities.
To this end, he urged the speaker to invoke the constitution by setting up the medical panel which must include Suntai's personal physician as member.
"If Suntai writes the assembly to say he is capable of handling his responsibilities then he should be allowed to resume office.
"There is a problem if Suntai is still incapacitated and some people are still pushing for him to resume office.
"It is only an independent medical panel that can determine Suntai's state of health," Obono-Obla said.
He observed that the assembly failed to take the appropriate action on the matter because sentiments were allowed to come into play.
Also, Mr Max Ogar, another lawyer who spoke, advised those against Suntai's resumption as governor to seek constitutional interpretation from a competent court.
He noted that there was nothing wrong with someone who wishes to resume office after being away on grounds of ill-health.
"Now there is nothing wrong with someone who was sick and is back to say he wants to resume, but all of us saw him (Suntai).
"Indigenes of that state who are not in support of what is going on can go to court to invoke the constitutional provision which says once a governor has become incapacitated by reason of ill-health, that he can no longer discharge his duties that he ought to be made to leave office.
"Obviously, they will have their way because the law does not support what they are doing," Ogar said.
Ogar warned that Suntai should not be allowed to resume in his current state of incapacitation because people would use his name to carry out fraudulent activities.
"These people are going to commit criminal offences because it is doubtful if this man can even hold his pen and write anything.
"But in his current state it's either his aides or political associates who will now be signing his signature. This is criminal and fraudulent," he said.
Ogar said under the prevailing circumstance, the assembly should urgently move to impeach Suntai since his supporters did not want him to resign.