The court refused the lawmakers request for a substituted service on the governor and his deputy.
The bid by members of the Adamawa State House of Assembly to commence impeachment proceedings against Governor Murtala Nyako and his Deputy, Bala Ngilari, suffered a setback on Monday after the request of the lawmakers to serve the two top officials the notice of impeachment via substituted service was refused by a court.
The House, which adjourned for two weeks after directing the Clerk of the Assembly, Francis Gbenseso, to serve the governor and his deputy with a notice of gross misconduct and impeachable offenses called for a “special sitting” in order to discuss the latest development.
The State Assembly had last Wednesday in their notice of impeachment said the two leaders led the executive arm of government to fraudulently divert N10 billon of workers’ salaries for September and October 2011; N120 million of Adamawa State workers’ emolument for May, 2014; N1.7 billion for Special Assistants; and N8 billion for fictitious contract.
The impeachment notice was signed by 19 of the 25 state lawmakers, and it listed 20 impeachable offences against Messrs. Nyako and Ngilari.
PREMIUM TMES gathered that only 10 out of the 25 lawmakers attended Monday’s sitting which began at about 1:50 p.m. and was presided over by the deputy Speaker, Laori Kwamati.
Immediately the members sat for the business of the day, the Deputy speaker invited the clerk to report the outcome of the efforts to serve the governor the notice through substituted service.
The clerk informed the lawmakers that the State’s Acting Chief Judge, Ambrose Mamadi, had earlier in the morning rejected the request to serve Messrs. Nyako and Ngilari via substituted service. He said the Chief Judge who relied on a Supreme Court precedent ruled that both the governor and his deputy must be served in person.
Some backed down
Also, PREMIUM TIMES gathered that apart from the court ruling, many of the 19 lawmakers who earlier signed the impeachment notice have backed down.
A source at the Assembly, who declined to be named because he is not permitted to talk to the media, said nine lawmakers had already withdrawn their support for the impeachment plot.
“The speaker, majority leader and other members who were the arrow heads of the move to remove the governor have all backed down, that is why they did not attend today’s sitting,” our source said.
He also said even those that attended Monday’s sitting amended the notice they are seeking to serve the governor.
“They said impeachment should be removed and that they are only accusing the governor and his deputy of gross misconduct,” he said.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the lawmakers met in groups and in private in Abuja with notable individuals from Adamawa State who variously urged them to reconsider their decision.
“People like Atiku (Abubakar), (Nuhu) Ribadu, and Gambo Jimeta all prevailed on them to forget about impeaching the governor; and it appears to be working,” our source said.
PREMIUM TIMES also understands that following a meeting between Governor Nyako, Atiku Abubakar and Nuhu Ribadu, Mr. Abubakar deployed his contacts and was able to sway his loyalist back to the side of the governor.