SANI ABUBAKAR DANLADI
The Taraba State deputy governor is in for a storm following the commencement of impeachment proceedings against him, writes Wole Ayodele, in Jalingo
After several months of speculation and denial, the Taraba State House of Assembly penultimate Tuesday commenced an impeachment process against the deputy governor, Alhaji Sani Abubakar Danladi, over allegations of gross misconduct.
In the past few months, speculations had been rife that the Assembly had concluded plans to impeach Danladi. But each time news filtered into town about the plan, the Assembly had always been quick to describe such speculation as mere rumour aimed at destabilising the state.
But in a swift move that caught not a few people unawares, a notice of allegations of gross misconduct was presented to the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Istifanus Gbana, on the floor of the Assembly by over two-thirds of the members of the Assembly on the September 4. This signalled the commencement of impeachment proceedings against the deputy governor. The house drew three allegations against the deputy governor, which he is expected to respond to within 14 days.
In the notice, dated September 4, 2012 and signed by 19 out of the 24 members of the Assembly, the house drew three impeachable offences against Danladi who they accused of using his office to, among other things, loot and divert public funds. The legislators also accused him of lacking the capacity to function as the deputy governor of the state.
Out of the 21 members that attended the September 4 sitting, only two – Dr. A.A. Jugulde, representing Sardauna Constituency, and Hon. Aminu J. Umar, representing Jalingo II on the platform of Congress for Progressive Change – refrained from signing the document while another member, Hon. Emmanuel Dame, representing Ardo-Kola Constituency was absent during the sitting.
Alleged Diversion of Funds
In the particulars of the allegations, the deputy governor was accused of using his office and influence to divert Millennium Development Goals facilities such as ICT Centre, motorised borehole and solar lights to Yagai Academy, a private school owned by him. By so doing, according to the legislators, Danladi denied the underprivileged members of the state access to and use of the facilities, thereby contravening the oath of office he swore to observe and protect. He was said to have perpetrated the acts in 2010.
The Assembly also accused the deputy governor of using his office to acquire a large expanse of land in Jalingo, the state capital, on which he built Yagai Academy and other multi-million naira business ventures, among which are Yagai Water, Yagai Printing Press, and Yagai Restaurant, which in the estimation of the house are worth over a billion naira.
The legislators held that Danladi engaged in sharp practices in government to unlawfully enrich himself with the funds with which he and his company used in acquiring, building and funding Yagai Academy, which unarguably has the best facilities among private schools in the state.
According to the signatories to the notice, the total emolument of Danladi as deputy governor cannot justify his investments and in so doing, they said, he not only breached the code of conduct for public office holders but also created in the minds of the people of the state the impression that the government condones, with impunity, the looting and diversion of public funds.
Furthermore, the legislators stated that the declared assets of the deputy governor as at the time of his assumption of office was not more than N56 million and that Yagai Academy was incorporated in 2009 with a share capital of N2 million. They stressed that before he became the deputy governor in 2007 he was neither in business nor owned any business that could yield reasonable income.
On his alleged lack of capacity to discharge his functions as deputy governor, the Assembly noted that since assuming office as Chairman of the State Boundary Commission, he had failed, neglected or refused to call any board meeting in the face of several community rivalries/disputes bordering on boundary delineation, which is the statutory responsibility of the board of the commission.
Besides his alleged refusal to properly discharge the functions of his office, according to the members of the House of Assembly, Danladi engendered disaffection, favouritism and undue interference in the running of government contrary to the oath of office he took just. He was accused of unduly interfering with the postings and transfers of indigenes of Karim-Lamido local government, where he hails from, in circumstances that has caused disaffection among the people and portrayed the government in bad light.
The notice of allegations of gross misconduct was signed by Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Abel Peter Diah, representing Mbamnga Constituency; Majority Leader, Hon. Charles Maijankai, representing Karim 1 Constituency; and 17 other members of the Assembly.
Other signatories of the impeachment notice were Hon. Daniel Ishaya Gani (Wukari 11); Hon. Mohammed D. Gwampo (Yorro); Hon. Ibrahim Adamu Imam (Jalingo1); Hon. Yahaya Abdulraham (Gassol 11); Hon. Bonzena K. John (Zing); Hon. Edward G. Baraya (Karim 11) and Hon. Gambo Maikudi representing Bali 1 Constituency.
The notice was also signed Hon. Hamman’Adama B. Abdullahi (Bali 11); Hon. Haruna Tsokwa (Takum 1); Hon. Iratsi Yohanna Adaki (Ussa); Hon. Joseph Albasu Kunini (Lau); Hon. Josiah Sabo Kente (Wukari 1); Hon. Adamu Tanko Maikarfi (Gassol 1); Hon Mark Useni (Takum 11); Hon. Mohammed Abdulkarim (IBI) and Hon. Mohammed G. Umar (Gashaka) as well as the only female member of the House, Hon. Rashida Abdullahi representing Nguroje Constituency.
However, there are insinuations that the members of the Assembly are not alone in the move to impeach the deputy governor. They are alleged to be acting the script of the state governor, Mr. Danbaba Danfulani Suntai.
“The drama playing out in the state House of Assembly can be described as the hand of Esau and the voice of Jacob. There is no way members of the House of Assembly would unanimously move to impeach the deputy governor without the consent and approval of the governor. In fact, the house can be described as an appendage of Government House,” stated a civil servant in the state who simply described himself as Mr. Haruna.
Despite the myriad of allegations levelled against him, THISDAY gathered that the move to impeach Danladi might not be unconnected with the current faceoff between the governor, on one hand, and Senator Aisha Jummai Alhassan, Senator Abubakar Tutare, and the immediate past PDP chairman in the state, Alhaji Abdulmumini Vaki, on the other.
Though members of the same political camp, Alhassan fell apart with the governor during the last PDP congresses in the state where herself, Tutare, and Vaki accused the governor of sidelining them in the composition of party executives in their various wards. Vaki is also said to be aggrieved over the governor’s decision to throw his weight behind the present chairman of the party, Chief Victor Bala Kona.
THISDAY investigations revealed that the deputy governor was alleged to have held a meeting with the trio in Saudi Arabia during the last Ummura, though associates of the deputy governor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, debunked the allegation. They insisted that Tutare did not go for Ummura while Vaki had already returned to Nigeria before Danladi went for the religious exercise just, as they maintained that Alhassan was in Dubai for a knee operation while the deputy governor was in the holy land.
Jolly Nyame Factor
A PDP chieftain in the state, Emmanuel Ando, told THISDAY that the decision to impeach the deputy governor was part of the conditions given by former Governor Jolly Nyame before his return to PDP with his supporters. Though, supporters of the governor insist that the last thing he would do is to accept to be given conditions by the Nyame camp before they return to the party.
Meanwhile, THISDAY gathered that a former chairman of Jalingo Local Government Area and immediate past special adviser to the governor on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Ali Sani Kona, is being tipped as the replacement for Danladi.
Ali Sani Kona, who played a very prominent role in Suntai’s re-election last year, is said to have tremendous goodwill across the state based on his above-average performance as Chairman of Jalingo local government and Special Adviser on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, a position that gave him leverage at the grassroots and within the traditional institution in the state.
The raging hostility between the deputy governor and his boss notwithstanding, both men have been named as awardees of this year’s national merit award. This, many believe, is in apparent recognition of their collective contributions to the development of the state in the past five years. While Suntai would be conferred with the award of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON), Danladi would receive the award of Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR). The awards would be given by President Goodluck Jonathan at a colourful ceremony in Abuja tomorrow. It is an event that may draw the curtain on a hitherto cordial relationship between the governor and his deputy.
Danladi is expected to respond to the allegations against him within 14 days and if unsatisfied, the impeachment matter would be referred to the Chief Judge, who would then set up a committee to investigate the allegations and determine his culpability. In reality, however, many believe the deputy governor’s impeachment has already been concluded and it would require a miracle for the cup to pass over him.