A high court in Jalingo, capital of Taraba state on Friday nullified the medical panel set up by Josiah Kente, speaker of the Taraba state house of assembly, to investigate the health status of Danbaba Suntai, governor of the state.
Silas Haruna, the justice who presided on the matter, said the action of the state’s executive council and the state assembly in setting up the panel was a usurpation of the judicial process.
He held that Suntai had already filed a suit before the state high court, challenging the decision of the house of assembly to stop him from resuming duty after transmitting a letter to that effect on August 26, 2013.
“There are two cases on this matter: one between Bello Mustapha against Suntai at the Supreme Court, and Suntai against the house of assembly at the state high court; both are served on the defendants,” he said.
“Their action of setting up the panel to investigate Suntai is thus a usurpation of the powers of the Supreme Court and the state high court. It is, therefore, illegal, null and void.”
Haruna ordered the parties not to take further action on Suntai until the determination of the substantive suites at various courts.
He note that any party that was not satisfied with the judgment had 90 days to proceed to appeal.
Chris Uche, the lead counsel to Umar, expressed dissatisfaction with the judgment, saying he would study it carefully before taking further action.
Alex Iziyon, counsel to Suntai who was represented by Elijah Nyaro, said he was happy that justice had finally been served on the medical panel issue.
On September 20, Kente set up a five-man panel to determine the health condition of Suntai, who had been in and out of hospitals since October 25, 2012 when he was involved in a plane crash in Yola, Adamawa state.
Garba Umar, his deputy, has been piloting the affairs of the state since the event occurred.
Though still recuperating, Suntai had attempted to take over the reins of governance, returning to Taraba from the hospital abroad where he was receiving treatment.
It was during the latest of such visit that the panel to ascertain his health condition was established.
The decision had been perceived in some quarters as a move to oust Suntai, an allegation that the speaker denied.
However, the court has laid to rest all the controversies generated over the medical panel.