Yesterday a new chapter to the ongoing melodrama in Adamawa politics was flipped when the court sacked Alh. Umaru Ahmed Fintiri as the acting governor of Adamawa state and declared the former deputy governor of Adamawa state Bar. Bala Ngilari as the substantive governor of the State. This was three months after he was ousted out together with his boss and former Governor Murtala Nyako.
The erstwhile Deputy Governor had filled a suit before the Federal High court in Abuja, seeking an order compelling his swearing in as the governor of the state. He had asked the court to declare his resignation letter dated July 24, 2014 and addressed to the Speaker of the House of Assembly as invalid, null and void. In his suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/545/14, the plaintiff argued that his resignation was in breach of section 306 (1), (2) and (5) of the 1999 constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) because it was addressed to the Speaker and acted upon by the House of Assembly. Those sections in the constitution states thus;
- 306(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.
- 306 (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 authorised by that authority or person to receive it.
- 306 (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.
Justice Adeniyi Ademola, while delivering his judgment, ruled that Ngilari’s letter was written at a time when Nyako had not been been removed, thus implying that the letter ought to have gone through as then governor which it did not, thus rendering it null and void. He also therefore ruled that Ngilari be sworn in as the substantive governor of the state.
Personally, I align myself with the judgment of his lordship because to my mind, there was a breach of legislative procedure when the House of Assembly sat and approved the resignation of the then deputy governor when the governor was still in office. It was afterwards that Nyako was impeached. Since at the time the purported resignation letter was sent, Nyako was still the governor of the state, the letter should have been address to him who in turn should forward it to the House of Assembly for due consideration. I hold this view because any breach of legislative procedure by the National Assembly or the State House of Assembly in exercising their legislative duties must be frowned at and declared illegal, null and void. The court in plethora of cases have stressed out this emphatically that any breach of legislative procedure by legislative is illegal and is declared null void. This can be seen in the case of Dariye v. Dapialong. Also in the case of A.G Federation v. Abubakar Atiku and a host of other cases. The court has proved once again as the protector of our young democracy.
This is not the end of this melodrama because the former governor Murtala Nyako’s suit challenging his impeachment is still pending in court and also the former Acting governor Umaru Fintiri has also promised to appeal his sack by the court. From my ends, my hands are crossed as we all await the next episode of this political tussle.