Law News
Fintiri returns as Speaker, vows to pursue appeal against Ngilari

Poised for a last fight, the ousted Acting Governor of Adamawa State, Ahmadu Umar Fintri, has gone before the Abuja Division of the Appeal Court to enumerate reasons why Bala Ngilari should not be allowed to function as the substantive Governor of the state.

In his eight grounds of appeal against the Federal High Court judgment that sacked him from office, Fintri, who acted as governor for 86 days and has since returned to his former position as Speaker of the state House of Assembly insisted that the erstwhile Governor of the state, Murtala Nyako, received and accepted the resignation letter of his former Deputy, Ngilari, and appointed his replacement, before he was eventually impeached on July 15.

He accused both Ngilari and the impeached Governor, Nyako, of suppressing valuable facts from the high court, stressing that one Adamu Kamale, a legislator in the state, was already nominated to take over as the Deputy governor.

Consequently, Fintri, through his lawyer, Mr. Duro Adeleye, SAN, urged the appellate court to set aside the judgment of Justice Ademola Adeniyi and compel the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to proceed with the bye-election already scheduled for Saturday.

He argued that the high court judge erred in law by not allowing the parties to call witnesses with a view to proving that Nyako actually received Ngilari’s letter of resignation before he was impeached by the Adamawa State House of Assembly.

Fintiri who presided over the House at the time Nyako was impeached from office, maintained that the ex-governor wrote a letter to the State Assembly wherein he not only intimated it of Ngilari’s resignation, but also forwarded the name of Kamale for approval.

According to the appellant, “The learned trial judge erred in law when he failed to convert suit to one commenced by way of writ of summons having regard to the hostile and contentious nature of facts on crucial issues that emanated from the conflicting affidavit evidence.”

He told the appellate court that, “There was a conflict between the parties as to whether the plaintiff (Ngilari) wrote Exhibit AU1, the letter of the plaintiff to the 5th defendant (Nyako) resigning from office.

“There was a conflict between the parties as to whether the 5th defendant wrote Exhibit AU2, the letter of the then governor of Adamawa State to the Speaker nominating Hon. Adamu Kamale as the Deputy Governor, the plaintiff having resigned his position.”

He further argued that Justice Adeniyi,”erred in law when he held that there was no proof that Exhibit AU1 was received by the 5th defendant.

“Exhibit AU2 was written by the fifth defendant (Nyako) to the Speaker wherein he informed the Speaker (inter alia) that the plaintiff (Ngilari) had resigned his appointment that morning.

“There is no requirement under section 306 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) for the 5th defendant to inform the Speaker in the letter of nomination of a deputy governor that he had received the resignation letter of the plaintiff.

“A replacement could not have been for the plaintiff by the defendant if he (plaintiff) remained in office as deputy governor.

“The learned trial judge erred in law when he held that Exhibit SASHA AU2 was not made by the 5th defendant.

“Exhibit AU2 had the letterhead paper of the governor, informing the 2nd defendant of the nomination of Hon. Adamu Kamale as the deputy governor, the plaintiff, having resigned from office that morning and was duly signed by the governor.

“The issue of whether the 5th defendant authored the Exhibit or not could not have been resolved without an examination of the witnesses to test their credibility.

“An allegation of forgery that is contemplated by the denial of the 5th defendant is a criminal offence and requires proof beyond reasonable doubt.

“No evidence was called; no particulars of forgery was supplied by the plaintiff or 5th defendant”, he added.

Justice Adeniyi had on his judgment, maintained that in-line with the provisions of sections 306 (1), (2) and (5) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, the purported resignation of Ngilari on July 14, 2014, was invalid, null and void, noting that contrary to the constitution, the letter, was addressed to the Speaker and acted upon by the Adamawa State House of Assembly.

Justice Adeniyi, observed that the purported resignation letter upon which Ngilari was ousted from office, was written at a time when Nyako still held sway as Governor, stressing that the letter ought to have gone through him (Nyako), instead of to the Speaker or the State Assembly.

The court held that the failure of the letter to pass through the proper constitutional channel rendered it invalid, null and void.

The trial judge equally noted that the documents that were presented before the court with a view to proving that Nyako accepted Ngilari’s resignation were of “doubtful origin”.

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