The Supreme Court has sacked Taraba State’s acting governor, Garba Umar, and ordered the reinstatement of Abubakar Danladi, a former deputy governor who was impeached before Mr. Umar took over.
Mr. Danladi was the first deputy governor who ran on the same ticket with Governor Dantata Suntai. He was impeached shortly before Mr. Suntai took ill after an air crash.
The acting governor who was removed Friday, Mr. Umar, was appointed the deputy governor after the impeachment of Mr. Danladi.
After Mr. Suntai became ill, Mr. Umar took charge as acting governor.
The acting governor has been locked in a bitter power struggle with the associates of Mr. Suntai, who insist the ailing governor has recovered enough to return to work.
In a unanimous decision Friday, the Supreme Court nullified the impeachment of the first deputy governor, Mr. Danladi, and ordered he be sworn in as acting governor immediately.
Seven justices of the court agreed with the ruling, delivered by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta.
The court said Mr. Danladi was denied fair hearing.
The court also said it was illegal for 19 members of the state House of Assembly who prepared the impeachment notice to have sat at a Guest House belonging to the majority leader.
Justice Ngwuta described the impeachment panel as a “kangaroo panel” and said that there was a conspiracy between the impeachment panel and the lawmakers.
The Taraba State House of Assembly had on October 4, 2012 removed Mr. Danladi from office on purported allegations of fraud and abuse of office.
Majority of the state’s lawmakers, 20 of the 24 members of the Assembly, had voted to uphold the recommendations of a seven-member judicial commission of inquiry. The commission was named by the state’s then Acting Chief Judge, Josephine Tuktur, to investigate allegations of gross misconduct against the deputy governor.
The commission said it found Mr. Danladi guilty of the allegations of gross misconduct.
The House Majority Leader, representing Karim I Constituency, Charles Maijankai, moved the motion for the adoption of the report.
The report had said Mr. Danladi used his office to divert Millennium Development Goals, MDG, projects to Yagai Academy, a private school, owned by him. It also indicted the former deputy governor for using his office to influence the posting of an officer and interfering in the affairs of his Karim-Lamido local government.
The panel also said the third allegation that Mr. Danladi did not convene a meeting of the state Boundary Commission, showed his incompetence.
But in impeaching the deputy governor at the time, both the House and the commission ignored the case filed by him against the composition and membership of the commission of inquiry. The case was then before a Taraba High Court.
Mr. Danladi’s downfall was at the time blamed on his tenuous relationship with the governor, Danbaba Suntai, who is said have become uncomfortable with his political ascendancy and affiliations with those Mr. Suntai considered his political rivals.
Analysts had at the time wondered why the charges, committed years back, surfaced at the time the two men fell apart.
Mr. Danladi was among those slated for the 2012 national awards in Abuja but was dropped reportedly on account of the controversy.
But less than a month after Mr. Danladi was removed, and replaced with Garba Umar, Mr. Suntai got involved in an air crash on October 25, 2012.
While Mr. Danladi continued to challenge his removal in court, Messrs Umar and Suntai became embroiled in a bitter power struggle that has remained largely unresolved.