The political crisis in Adamawa State took a new turn Wednesday with Bala James Nggilari, the former deputy governor under impeached governor Murtala Nyako, emerging to demand that he should be declared the substantive governor of the state.
Nggilari has approached the Federal High Court in Abuja for an order directing the acting Chief Judge of the state, Ambrose Mammadi, to swear him in as the legitimate governor of the state.
This was among the reliefs sought by Nggilari through his legal representative, Festus Keyamo, on Wednesday.
The former Governor also sought for an order from the court removing the Speaker of the State Assembly, Ahmadu Umaru, from acting as the governor of Adamawa State forthwith.
Nggilari had resigned his position as few hours before the impeachment of his boss.
However, the 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.
Nggilari has asked the court to declare that by the combined provisions of section 306 (1), (2) and (5) of the 1999 Constitution of
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 Nggilari’s seat 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,” the lawyer 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.
The lawyer had urged the President to uphold the Constitution which he swore to defend and allow Nggilari to be immediately sworn-in as governor to complete the term of office of the impeached governor in the next few months, while a deputy is nominated.