Governor Danbaba Suntai of Nigeria’s Taraba State early Sunday left the Republic Airport in Long Island Area of New York aboard a chartered aircraft.
The aircraft, with registration number N388CA belonging to Shelt Air, left at exactly 7.43pm., New York time, which is about 1a.m., in Nigeria.
Suntai was followed to the airport by the Consul-General of Nigeria in New York, Ambassador Habib Habu, and other close relations and friends.
Habu said the flight would first make a stop-over in Abuja before the final destination of the governor in Jalingo.
Suntai was involved in an air crash in Yola, Adamawa State in October last year and was first flown to Germany for treatment. He was said to have suffered brain damage.
He was eventually transferred to the John Hopkins Hospital in the USA.
Mr. Suntai reportedly responded well to treatment at Hopkins, but his real state of health remains foggy.
The online SaharaReporters quoting sources both in New York and Taraba State said that Mr. Suntai’s condition remains serious.
“Suffering memory loss, he is unable to hold a normal conversation or remember either things or people, and often just laughs out loud.
“The last time the acting Governor of the state visited him in New York, both men only posed for pictures, SaharaReporters was told.
“People who accompanied the acting governor said there was no discussion allowed between Suntai and his Acting Governor before the man returned to Taraba.
“Worried that the Acting Governor might decide to take over power, Mr. Suntai’s wife, brother, and some commissioners loyal to him in Taraba approached Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State to bankroll the return of Suntai in a grand style that would be designed to hoodwink the public.
“According to the plan, Suntai will make a brief appearance and wave to the crowd. He will then be quickly whisked away to safety.
The various reports are drawing similarities between Suntai’s return and that of former president, Umaru Yar’Adua in May 2010, who was brought back to the country at night, in a vegetable state. Yar’Adua’s death was announced a few days after.
The difference however is that Suntai is returning home in day time and an elaborate reception has been lined for him back home in Jalingo, the Taraba state capital.
Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, representing Taraba South dismissed speculations on the governor’s health. In an interview, he said: ” I visit the governor regularly and I can tell you he is recuperating fast.”
Since Suntai’s hospitalization, Alhaji Garba Umar, the deputy governor, has been acting as the governor.