Monday, April 21, 2014

Taraba Deputy Governor admits fund diversion- Lawmakers say

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The embattled Deputy Governor of Taraba State, Sani Danladi, who is facing impeachment threat over alleged fraud and abuse of office, has admitted to the charges leveled against him by the state’s House of Assembly, state lawmakers have said.

Lawmakers served Mr. Danladi a notice of allegations of grave violation of his oath of office.

The lawmakers demanded a response, within 14 days, to the allegations, many of which pertained to the diversion of the Millennium Development Goal projects to his personal companies.

The 14-day ultimatum lapsed Tuesday.

According to a Taraba lawmaker who spoke exclusively to PREMIUM TIMES, the deputy governor, in his written response, admitted to the allegations, but said they infringements occurred during his first term in office.

“Danladi said the house cannot impeach him based on these allegations, especially the diversion of MDG projects because they were committed in the last dispensation, before Governor Suntai and himself were re-elected into office in 2011,” the member said, asking not to be quoted since the House has yet to make public its position on the matter.

 

Controversy over impeachment response

The chairman, Taraba State House of Assembly Committee on Information, Daniel Gani, confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that the house was in receipt of the deputy governor’s reaction, but refused to speak on its content.

Mr. Gani said the allegations and the responses have been forwarded to the state Chief Judge, who is legally required to name a panel to investigate the allegations within two weeks.

The outcome of the inquiry will inform the chamber’s next line of action, the House spokesman said

Constitutionally, proceedings of impeachment are to follow if the deputy governor is found liable at the end of the probe.

The Spokesperson to the Deputy Governor, Hamza Muri, however claimed he was unaware his principal had responded to the allegations.

“I am not aware he has sent a reply to the house because he has been away to Abuja for long,” the spokesperson told PREMIUM TIMES via telephone.

 

The Governor did not send us

Mr. Danladi’s frosty relationship with the state assembly, which has matured to impeachment threats, has for weeks thrust the troubled politics of the north eastern state to national light.

Between 1999 and 2011, more than half a dozen deputy governors left office following that trend. Mr. Danladi is the first deputy governor to be so threatened since 2011.

Lawmakers denied they have been prompted to act by the state governor, Danbaba Suntai, as impeachment of deputies is a well known routine of state governors who fall out with their deputies.

“You know that if the National Assembly were to begin the process of removing anybody based on their constitutional powers, people will just jump to the conclusion that the president is behind it,” Mr. Gani said. “We are just doing our job, besides, impeachment notice does not mean removal, he could be found innocent or not.”

But analysts have pointed to the allegations as being the brainchild of the governor. They questioned why the charges, committed years back, are coming at time the two chief executives have fallen apart.

“Why are all these things coming up now, the pattern is always clear,” said Uby Ben, who follows the state’s politics.

 

The allegations

Mr. Danladi was amongst those slated for the controversial National Awards in Abuja on Monday, before being dropped reportedly on account of the scandal.

The Taraba House listed a range of allegations of misconduct against him through a motion by the Deputy Speaker, Abel Diah, two weeks ago.

The lawmakers accused Mr. Danladi of using his office to divert Federal Government, World Bank sponsored, MDG projects funds meant for the state to Yagai Academy, his private school in Jalingo, the state capital.

Mr. Danladi was also accused of diverting solar powered street lights and motorized borehole projects to Yagai Academy, thus denying the communities opportunity to enjoy the facilities.

The Deputy Governor was also accused of using his office to acquire a large expanse of land to build the school and other multi million naira businesses, including Yagai water, Yagai printing press and Yagai Restaurant, the monies added up to over a billion Naira.

The House argued that the deputy governor’s total earnings could not justify his spread of business interest since his asset at assumption of office was purportedly not more than fifty six million naira.

Mr. Danladi has also been accused of interfering with the postings of indigenes of Karim Lamido, his home local government area.

In his capacity as Chairman, Taraba State Boundary Commission, Mr. Danladi was also accused of neglecting his responsibility by refusing to call board meetings amidst several cases of communal unrest bordering on border issues.

 

Governor’s grouse

The governor is said to have accused his deputy of fraternizing with his political opponents such as Jummai Alhassan, who represents Taraba North Senatorial district in the Senate, and Abubakar Tutare who represents Taraba Central.

Mr. Danbaba also views his deputy as being too powerful, and having the ambition to replace him in 2015 when their tenure expires, sources say.

If the impeachment succeeds, officials close to the governor say, Mr. Danladi is to be replaced by either Jerry Manwe, a member of the House of Representatives; or the present Chairman of Jalingo Local Government, Hassan Bappa.

The man who contested for governor under the platform of the Congress for Progressive Change, but returned to the PDP in an elaborate event in Jalingo recently, Ahmed Yusuf, may also be considered.

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