Abuja Court stops Adamawa election, orders Nyako’s deputy, Ngilari to be sworn in

Photo:newtelegraphonline.com

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, not to go ahead with Saturday’s governorship bye election in Adamawa state.

The court also ordered that the deputy governor of ousted Murtala Nyako be sworn in immediately to complete the deposed governor’s tenure.

The court judgement follows a suit instituted by Mr. Ngilari asking the court to declare him governor on the grounds that his resignation letter, which he forwarded to the speaker of the state Assembly on the eve of the impeachment of Governor Nyako, was null and void.

Mr. Ngilari’s request is based on constitutional requirement  that a deputy governor can only resign by submitting his letter of resignation to the governor.

Mr. Ngilari had asked the court to halt any governorship election in the state, and  declare him governor following the impeachment of Mr. Nyako on July 15, 2014.

The court had earlier ‎refused an application by  Mr. Ngilari to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from conducting bye-election to fill the Adamawa  governorship seat.

‎‎Mr. Ngilari, whose office was declared vacant on July 15 by the state’s lawmakers after he purportedly resigned, later challenged the legality of his resignation.

The suit had Umaru Fintiri, the Speaker, Adamawa State House of Assembly, the House of Assembly, the Acting Governor, Adamawa State, Mr. Nyako and INEC as defendants.

Mr. Ngilari, who denied resigning his position within the contemplation of the provision of Section 306(1), (2) & (5) of the Constitution, said the purported resignation letter he sent to the Speaker was not meant  to be acted on by the House of Assembly.

Mr. Ngilari,  in a supporting affidavit, said, “I did not submit any letter of resignation to the 5th defendant (governor) or any other person other than the 1st defendant (the Speaker).

“I only submitted a purported letter of resignation (exhibit A), to the 1st defendant but I never intended to comply with the strict provisions of sections 306 (1), (2) & (5) of the 1999 Constitution by submitting it to the 5th defendant (the Governor).

“I never intended exhibit A (the letter) to be any subject of debate or resolution by the 2nd defendant (House of Assembly), but a private correspondence between myself and the 1st defendant, hence it was marked ‘secret’.

“That exhibit A was only submitted to the 1st defendant with the intention of discussing the contents with him privately at a more convenient time to alert him at a possible action I may take at a later date because of certain political developments in Adamawa State, hence I did not submit it to the 5th defendant (as Governor of Adamawa State) as strictly stipulated by section 306(1), (2) & (5) of the 1999 Constitution.

“That I was therefore shocked to see that my letter was read and acted upon by the entire members of the 2nd Defendant when it was never addressed to them,” Nggilari stated.

Mr. Ngilari then raised seven questions for the court’s determination, and asked the court to restrain INEC and its agents from conducting a bye-election to fill the office of the Governor following the impeachment of the governor and the purported resignation of his deputy.

He further sought an order “removing the 3rd defendant (Umaru) as the Acting Governor of Adamawa State forthwith”, and “an order directing the Chief Judge of Adamawa State (or Acting Chief Judge, as the case may be) or the President of the Customary Court of Appeal to swear” him (the plaintiff) in as the state’s substantive governor.

He also sought:

*A declaration that by the combined provisions of section 306 (1), (2) and (5) of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) the plaintiff (Barr. Bala James Nggilari), as Deputy Governor of Adamawa State, did not resign his office by addressing a letter of resignation dated 15th July, 2014 to the 1st defendant (Speaker, Adamawa State House of Assembly).

*A declaration that by the combined provisions of section 306 (1), (2) and (5) of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) the purported resignation of the Plaintiff as Deputy Governor of Adamawa State did not take effect when the purported Letter of Resignation was received by the 1st Defendant (Speaker, Adamawa State House of Assembly) on the 15th of July, 2014.

*A declaration that by the combined provisions of section 306 (1), (2) and (5) of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) the declaration of the office of the Deputy Governor of Adamawa State (then occupied by the plaintiff) vacant on the July 15th, 2014 vide the votes and proceedings of the 2nd defendant of same day is unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.

*A declaration that by the sequence of the legislative business of the 2nd defendant as contained in the transcript of the votes and proceedings of the Adamawa State House of Assembly (2nd defendant) of Tuesday, July 15th, 2014, the 5th defendant (Murtala Nyako) was still the Governor of Adamawa State at the time the 1st and 2nd defendants received, accepted and acted upon the purported letter of resignation of the plaintiff (Barr. Bala James Nggilari) to declare his seat vacant.

*A declaration that by the combined provisions of section 306 (1), (2) and (5) of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) the Plaintiff (Barr. Bala James Nggilari) did not resign from office as Deputy Governor of Adamawa State as strictly stipulated by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

*A declaration that by virtue of section 191(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), after the impeachment of Murtala Nyako (5th Defendant) as Governor of Adamawa Sate, the Plaintiff ought to be sworn in as Governor of Adamawa State.

*A declaration that by the combined provisions of section 191(1) and 306 (1), (2) and (5) of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the swearing-in of the 3rd defendant (Rt. Hon. Ahmadu Umaru) as Acting Governor of Adamawa State on 15th of July, 2014 is illegal and unconstitutional.

*A declaration that, by the provision of section 191(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the 6th Defendant cannot conduct any election to fill the office of the Governor of Adamawa State after the impeachment of Murtala Nyako, as the Deputy Governor (Barr. Bala James Nggilari) did not resign from that office as strictly stipulated by section 306 (1), (2) and (5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).


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