Popular human rights lawyer, Festus Keyamo, has described the process of declaring the seat of the deputy governor of Adamawa State vacant by the House of Assembly as illegal, unconstitutional, null and void, warning that the country may be gradually descending into a state of chaos if President Goodluck Jonathan continued to ignore the illegalities that have characterized the political sector.
In an open letter to President Jonathan dated July 21, 2014, Keyamo 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 said the action of the deputy governor, Bala James Ngilari, in addressing his resignation letter to the Speaker of the House, Ahmadu Umaru, 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 the seat of the deputy governor vacant, especially since he was not indicted by the committee set up to investigate state chief executive.
“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 argued.
He said consequently, by the provisions of sections 306 (1),(2) & (5) of the constitution, the purported resignation of the deputy governor never took place, or at worst, never took effect, since it can only take effect upon receipt of it by the governor.
Keyamo also noted that according to the law, the Speaker who has been sworn-in as acting governor cannot hold forth for more than three months during which the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, must conduct election to fill the vacancy.
“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,” he noted.
The lawyer urged the President to uphold the constitution which he swore to defend and allow Ngilari to be immediately sworn-in as governor to complete the term of office of the impeached governor Murtala Nyako in the next few months, while a deputy is nominated.
This, he said, will save the state from unnecessary election crises and unnecessary waste of public funds by INEC.