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Keyamo identifies legal errors in Adamawa impeachment

  • Writes President to reinstate Deputy Governor Ngillari

A Lagos-based lawyer and member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Festus Keyamo, this Monday, sent an Open Letter to President Goodluck Jonathan over what he perceived as gradual sliding into a state of anomie in the country, cautioning

the President  against turning blind eyes and deaf ears to the various illegalities that have characterized the process employed in the gale of impeachments, or threatened impeachments and/or removal of elected representatives of the people in various parts of the country. “In some cases, it is political considerations and maneuverings that becloud the sense of reasoning of the dramatis personae so much so that the proper constitutional requirements for such processes are thrown overboard,” he argued.
In the Open Letter, Keyamo reviewed how on 4th of July, 2014, the Acting Chief Judge of Adamawa  State, Justice Ambrose Mamadi, at the request of the Speaker of the House of Assembly (following the adoption of a motion by two-thirds of members of the House to probe allegations of gross misconduct against the Governor and Deputy Governor), set up a seven-man panel to probe the Governor and Deputy Governor of the State. The Panel, he remarked, sat and submitted its report on the 14th of July, 2014. “I will, at this stage, totally avoid the controversies regarding the service of the summons or allegations against the Governor and his Deputy, the proceedings of the seven-man panel, issues of fair-hearing e.t.c. I will proceed to the events of the 15th of July, 2014, which are not in dispute,” he complained.
Keyamo, accordingly, narrated thus:
From the Votes and Proceedings of the House on the 15th of July, 2014 the following transpired in sequential order:
(a)        The Speaker and members took their seats.
(b)        The House adopted the proceedings of its last sitting.
(c)        The Speaker announced the absence of a few members.
(d)        The Speaker announced the receipt of the letter of resignation of the Deputy Governor, Barrister Bala James Ngilari, Addressed to the Speaker, and read the contents.
(e)        The House considered and accepted the letter of resignation and declared the office of the Deputy Governor vacant.
(f)          The House then went on to consider the report of the seven-man panel which indicted the Governor of the State, Murtala Nyako, and accepted the report.
(g)        The Speaker then declared the Governor removed from office and the House directed the Acting Chief Judge or the President of the Customary Court of Appeal of the State to swear in the Honourable Speaker, Right Honourable Ahmadu Umaru as Acting Governor pending fresh elections by INEC.
Keyamo further contended that from the above-stated facts, as they occurred in sequential order, the following facts are not in dispute:
(a)        The Deputy Governor, Bala James Nggilari, addressed his resignation to the Speaker, and not the Governor of the State. At the foot of the letter, the Governor was only copied.
(b)       The then Governor, Murtala Nyako, did not receive any such letter from the Deputy Governor, and this was later confirmed by the Governor in a press release on the 16th of July, 2014.
(c)        At the material time the House received and purportedly accepted the supposed resignation of the Deputy Governor, Vice Admiral Murtala Nyako (rtd) was still the Governor of the State.
Keyamo, thereafter, questioned what the 1999 Constitution (as amended), says about such a resignation which the President swore to defend and uphold. He cited that Sections 306 (1), (2) and (5) of the 1999 Constitution, state as follows: “(1) Save as otherwise provided in this section, any person who is appointed, elected or otherwise selected to any office established by this Constitution may resign from that office by writing under his hand addressed to the authority or person by whom he was appointed, elected or selected.
(2)    The resignation of any person from any office established by this Constitution shall take effect when the writing signifying the resignation is received by the authority or person to whom it is addressed or by any person authorized by that authority or person to receive it.
(5)    The notice of resignation of the Governor and of the Deputy Governor of a State shall respectively be addressed to the Speaker of the House of Assembly and the Governor of the State.” (emphasis mine)
Keyamo argued that from the above sections, “it can be clearly seen that the declaration of the seat of the Deputy Governor of Adamawa State vacant by the House of Assembly was illegal, unconstitutional, null and void. The House has no such powers and can play no such role under the Constitution. The least we should have expected was for the House to impeach the Governor (assuming but not conceding that due process was followed in his case) and swear in the Deputy Governor as the substantive Governor. We were never told that he was indicted by the seven-man panel set up by the Acting Chief Judge of the State.” He maintained that consequently, “by the provisions of sections 306 (1), (2) & (5) above, the purported resignation of the Deputy Governor never took place, or at worst, never took effect,” insisting that “it can only take effect, upon receipt of it by the governor.”
Keyamo complained that the present Acting Governor (who was the former Speaker), can only hold office for three months, pending fresh elections. He decried that even the winner of that election, by the provision of section 191(2) of the 1999 Constitution can only complete the unexpired tenure of Murtala Nyako. “It means if we have a governorship election in October in Adamawa State, we will have another again within four months, going by INEC’s timetable for elections next year. What a waste of public funds,” he declared.
Keyamo admonished the President that “if proper constitutional procedure is followed, let wise counsel prevail by reverting immediately to the situation where the Deputy Governor, Bala James Nggilari, is sworn in as the Governor and he nominates a deputy to complete the term of office of Murtala Nyako in the next few months. This will save the State from unnecessary election crises and unnecessary waste of public funds by INEC.”
The legal practitioner also stated: “We cannot imagine a situation where any interested party now heads to court to challenge the removal of Bala James Nggilari from office and he is re-instated at the last minute when election materials have been printed and personnel already deployed at great expense.” He stated that the President can save this country this unnecessary waste of public funds by doing the needful.

[National Daily]


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