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Court ousts Fintiri, stops governorship by-election

Justice Adeniyi Ademola also ordered the Adamawa State Chief Judge or the President of the Customary Court to immediately swear in Mr Bala Ngilari as…

Justice Adeniyi Ademola also ordered the Adamawa State Chief Judge or the President of the Customary Court to immediately swear in Mr Bala Ngilari as the substantive governor on the ground that his purported resignation as a deputy governor was not effective in the face of the law.
The court also stopped the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from conducting by-election to the office of the governor as the said office is not vacant.
Fintiri, who was the Speaker of the State House of Assembly in July, had shortly before Murtala Nyako’s impeachment informed the lawmakers that Ngilari had sent in his resignation letter to the State House Assembly.
The resignation letter was read at plenary by the Speaker, after which the lawmakers approved it.
After his impeachment, Nyako issued a statement saying that the letter written by his deputy was of no consequence because the constitutional stipulation is that the deputy should have written to him as governor.
Ngilari subsequently approached the court through his counsel, Festus Keyamo, seeking to declare his resignation illegal and also give an order removing the acting governor.
He also wants the court to order the Chief Judge or Acting Chief Judge to swear him in as the substantive Governor of Adamawa State.
In his judgment, Justice Ademola, after considering all the submissions of the counsel, held that going by Section 306(1) (2) and (5) of the 1999 Constitution, the purported resignation was not in strict compliance with the section.
He said the letter displayed by the state house of assembly was not valid within the contemplation of the law.
“For a valid resignation, there must be a personal letter from the deputy governor to the governor. It is not the duty of the state house of assembly to accept resignation letter of the deputy governor. The condition precedent for resignation was not satisfied. It is not a valid letter of resignation,” he said.
The court also said the onus has shifted to the acting governor to prove that a copy of the resignation letter was in the file handed over to him.
Justice Ademola said there was neither a letter nor a certified true copy showing that a copy of the resignation letter was submitted to the governor.
Justice Ademola said all the exhibits brought by the defendants have doubtful origin adding that the exhibits speak lies against themselves and that the court discountenanced them.
He added that constitutional provisions cannot be waived by any person.
“There is no proof of letter of resignation before the court. Going by this, the plaintiff did not resign from office as the deputy governor of Adamawa state on July 15, 2014 as claimed by the defendants,” he said.
The court also held that the swearing in of the acting governor was unconstitutional and illegal.
He also held that INEC cannot hold any by-election in the state.
The court therefore ordered that in line with Section 306 (1) (2), the purported resignation of the plaintiff is not effective adding that Ngilari did not resign from office.
The court ordered that going by Section 191 of the 1999 Constitution, after the impeachment of Nyako, the deputy governor should be sworn in.
He also ordered that the swearing in of Fintiri as the acting governor was illegal and unconstitutional and hence should be removed immediately.
The court also made an order restraining INEC from conducting a by-election in the state.
He ordered the Chief Judge of the state or the President of the Customary Court to swear in Ngilari with immediate effect.
The court had earlier dismissed the preliminary objections brought by the defendants challenging the jurisdiction of the court and the manner by which the suit was instituted.

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