The Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the Acting Governor of Adamawa State, Ahmadu Umar Fintiri to immediately vacate office and that the former Deputy Governor, James Bala Ngilari, who purportedly resigned, be sworn-in as governor.
The judgment also halts the planned October 11 bye-election into the office of governor.
Ngilari had approached the court in August through his counsel, Festus Keyamo, for an order directing the acting Chief Judge of the state, Ambrose Mammadi, to swear him in as the legitimate governor of the state.
The former Deputy Governor also sought for an order from the court removing Fintiri from acting as the governor of Adamawa State.
Ngilari had resigned his position as Deputy Governor in a controversial manner few hours before the impeachment of his boss, governor Murtala Nyako.
However, his resignation letter was addressed to the Speaker instead of Nyako who was at the time still the governor as provided in the 1999 Constitution.
The manner of his resignation therefore seemed involuntary, raising suspicions that he may have bowed to pressure from the legislators who were hell bent on gaining full control of the state.
Ngilari asked the court to declare that by the combined provisions of Section 306 (1), (2) and (5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) he did not resign his office by addressing a letter of resignation the Speaker, and to declare his purported resignation unconstitutional, null and void.
Before the new turn of events, Keyamo had written an open letter to President Jonathan dated July 21, 2014, where he noted that Sections 306 (1) of the 1999 Constitution provides that any person who is appointed, elected or otherwise selected to any office established by the 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.
The lawyer pointed out that the action of the deputy governor in addressing his resignation letter to the Speaker of the House instead of the governor who as at the time had not been impeached was illegal and unconstitutional, adding that the Assembly had no right to declare Ngilari’s seat vacant, especially since he was not indicted by the committee set up to investigate state chief executive.
He consequently urged the President to uphold the Constitution which he swore to defend by allowing Ngilari to be sworn-in as governor.
Ngilari would now complete the term of office of the impeached governor in the next few months before fresh elections are conducted, while a deputy is nominated.