As doctors at the Yola Specialist Hospital battled on Thursday to save the life of Governor Danbaba Suntai of Taraba State after he was involved in a plane crash, a band of thugs invaded Government House, Jalingo and chased out his deputy, Alhaji Garba Umar.
The invasion, which is now being probed by the State Security Service (SSS), is strongly suspected to be part of a plot to stop Umar from succeeding Suntai in the event that the governor did not survive.
At the centre of the SSS probe is a senator said to have instigated the attack.
Governor Suntai was widely rumoured to have died in the crash until the Presidency and the Ministry of Aviation.
Umar, who was only sworn-in on October 5, was forced out of the Government House by thugs allegedly acting on the orders of the Senator.
Umar’s predecessor, Alhaji Sani Abubakar, was himself stopped from seeing the governor in the hospital by security agents.
A highly-ranked source, speaking on the Government House invasion, said: “Following the rumoured death of the governor, some thugs loyal to a serving senator invaded the Government House at about 11pm and unconstitutionally ejected the Deputy Governor from the place.
“They were shouting that under no condition would they allow the Deputy Governor to succeed Suntai who was presumed dead.
“Worried by the threat to his life, the Deputy Governor was ferried by security aides to the state office of the SSS in Jalingo.
“He slept at the SSS office overnight to avoid being killed. But a reinforcement of security around the Deputy Governor was effected on Friday to prevent further harassment against him.”
The source added: “We are investigating the alleged involvement of a serving senator in the illegal attack on the Deputy Governor.
“If the senator’s culpability is established, we will effect his arrest and trial.
“So far, it has been established that the senator has been at loggerheads with the governor. The suspect was opposed to how the immediate past Deputy Governor, Alhaji Sani Abubakar, was impeached by the Taraba State House of Assembly based on ‘cooked up’ allegations of gross misconduct levelled against him by the state lawmakers.”
Suntai was moved to the National Hospital, Abuja at about 2.08 p.m yesterday under tight security, bandaged from head to toe and had an oxygen mask on his face.
He sat on a reclining chair in the ambulance.
A total of seven vehicles were in the convoy, many of them occupied by security operatives.
At about 3.10 pm, President Goodluck Jonathan arrived the hospital to personally assess the governor’s condition. He told reporters as he departed that the governor’s condition had stabilised: “First and foremost, we have to thank God for what has happened. Plane crash is not something you can just wave off. We are quite happy that the Governor is still stable and feeling well.”
“The doctors are working very hard on him. I believe that by God’s will, he will soon come out of it. But he is still in the hospital. No doubt about that. And the professor/CMD is here. He can just say one or two things. Being a Governor, people are worried. They want to know his state of health.”
The Chief Medical Director of the National Hospital, Prof. Bala Shehu, said: “Just like the President said, he is very stable. Obviously, in the first 24 hours of any injuries, there are worries. There are very few worries. So, we will continue to observe him for the first 24 hours."