Law News
Acting Governor’s Application Stalls Judgment in Nyako’s Suit


An application filed by the acting Governor of Adamawa State, Alhaji Umaru Fintiri, yesterday stalled the judgment in a suit filed by a lawyer seeking the reinstatement of impeached governor of the state, Murtala Nyako.

The application forced the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, to adjourn the case to October 16 for hearing.

A Lagos-based lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje, had filed the suit in August, challenging the legality of Nyako’s impeachment on July 15.

Ogungbeje, in his suit, had argued that Nyako’s impeachment lacked  due process of the law, and prayed the court for an order reinstating him as governor.

Listed as respondents in the suit are Fintiri, the state House of Assembly, and the acting Chief Judge of the state, Justice Ambrose Mammadi.

Others are Justice Buba Kajama, (Chairman of the seven-member panel that investigated allegations of gross misconduct against Nyako), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Inspector General of Police (IG).
Justice Abang had taken arguments from parties on September 11, and had reserved judgment till September 30 for judgment.

But when the case came up yesterday, Ogungbeje reminded the court that the business of the day was for the court to deliver its judgment in the suit, having entertained argument from parties.

However, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), representing the first, second and third respondents respectively, drew the court’s attention to his pending application before it.
He had argued that the originating processes were not served on his clients, adding that when the lapses in the proceedings were brought to the court’s attention, the court directed counsel to adopt their written addresses.

He had therefore, prayed the court for leave to move his application.
The applicant in opposition, insisted that the business of the court was to deliver judgment, adding that the application should not be entertained.

Ruling, Justice Abang held that although the court had adjourned the matter for judgment, it was in the overriding interest of justice to hear the application of counsel to the respondents.

“On Sept. 11 during the court’s vacation, I adjourned this matter for judgment, having heard parties in the suit.

“However, on Sept. 22, the court registrar drew my attention in chambers, to an application by the first, second and third respondent; I then fixed it for hearing on Sept. 26, and ordered hearing notices to be issued on parties.

“On the return date, the first to fifth respondents were present in court but the applicant was absent. I checked the court’s file and found that he was not served with a hearing notice.

“Issues arose, as to the need to hear the competiting rights of parties, before judgment is delivered.

“There is no intervening event that will make me change my mind; I will take the latter day application, and then determine if the reserved judgment will be delivered.
“If parties are ready to canvass their arguments now, the court is ready,” I so hold
However, Ogungbeje informed the court that he was not prepared to respond to the application, and prayed the court for a short adjournment.

Ogungbeje stressed the need for the court to avail him the earliest possible date in the first week of October, bearing in mind that gubernatorial election in Adamawa was billed to hold on October 11.

Olanipekun, in response, argued that the first week would not be convenient, adding that he would only be available on October 16 and 17, and urged the court to adjourn the suit to any of the dates.

Justice Abang, in a short ruling, adjourned the suit to October 16 for hearing.

Ogungbeje is seeking a declaration that the setting up of a seven-member panel by Justice Mammadi after his order stopping the Adamawa State House of Assembly from constituting the panel was biased.

He argued that it was also a violation of Nyako’s right to fair hearing and fair trial as guaranteed under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

The lawyer is also praying the court to declare that the constitution of the panel by both the House of Assembly, and Mammadi against a subsisting order of court, was contemptuous, undemocratic and a flagrant violation of the Constitution.

Besides, the applicant is urging the court to nullify Nyako’s impeachment of July 15, and another order compelling Fintiri to vacate office as acting governor forthwith.

He also averred that the failure of the respondents to serve the impeachment notice personally on Nyako was a breach of his (Nyako’s) right to fair hearing and fair trial.

Click here to read from source.