—————————-Despite being impeached from office, Tuesday, by lawmakers of the Adamawa State House of Assembly, Murtala Nyako has rejected the resignation of Bala Ngilari, his deputy.
Mr. Ngilari, who was also facing impeachment charges alongside Mr. Nyako, had tendered his resignation before the lawmakers, shortly before his principal was removed from office.
The Deputy Governor’s resignation letter was read at plenary by the Speaker of the Assembly, Umaru Fintiri, after which the lawmakers approved it.
But Mr. Nyako said that the purported resignation was a breach of Section 306 (5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We wish to State categorically that Section 306 (5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as Amended
requires that the Deputy Governor resigns not to the House of Assembly but to the Governor,” Mr. Nyako said in a statement on Tuesday issued by Ahmad Sajoh, Director. Press and Public Affairs, Governor’s Office.
“As at the time the supposed resignation was said to have been tendered in the House, Murtala H. Nyako was the Governor of Adamawa State. No such letter was written to him, none was received by him and none was approved by him.
“It should therefore be known that in the eyes of the Law, the Deputy Governor has not resigned. Barr Bala James Ngillari is still the Deputy Governor of Adamawa State. This clarification is necessary to avert another subversion of the Constitution since the other processes relating to the impeachment saga have all been in contravention of the Constitution and the Law.
“We wish to observe that continued abuse of the constitution and the laws of the land may spell doom for our democracy,” Mr. Nyako added.
Following the impeachment of Mr. Nyako and the resignation of his deputy, Mr. Fintiri was sworn in as the Acting Governor of the state by the former acting chief judge of the state, Ambrose Mammadi, at the council chambers of Government House.
According to Section 306 (5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states that: “The notice of resignation of the Governor and of the Deputy Governor of a State shall respectively be addressed to the Speaker of the House of Assembly and the Governor of the State.
Furthermore, Section 306 (2) states that: “The resignation of any person from any office established by this Constitution shall take effect when the writing signifying the resignation is received by the authority or person to whom it is addressed or by any person authorized by that authority or person to receive it.”
Jiti Ogunye, a Lagos based constitutional lawyer, told PREMIUM TIMES that by virtue of the Constitution, Mr. Ngilari’s resignation was illegal.
“The governor addresses his letter of resignation to the Speaker because he is the head of the Executive branch and the Speaker is the head of the Legislative branch. The deputy governor is not the head of the executive,” Mr. Ogunye said.
“The implication of this is, clearly speaking, the deputy governor did not follow the constitutional procedure in delivering his resignation letter.
“However, since the deputy governor had tendered his resignation, and he had not come out to say he is still the deputy governor, although he tendered to an inappropriate authority, does it lie on the mouth of another authority to say it is illegal?”
“If anybody is challenging the constitutionality of that move, the person should go to court to challenge it. That’s the recourse. The recourse cannot be an amorphous office of the governor,” Mr. Ogunye added.
Femi Falana, a human rights lawyer, described the Adamawa State saga as a “litany of illegalities.”
“As far as the constitution is concerned, a notice of resignation by a public official cannot take effect until it is addressed to the
authority whom it is meant to,” said Mr. Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria,
“If he (Mr. Ngilari) is purported to have resigned when the governor is still in office, the resignation is illegal and so the assumption of the office by the speaker is illegal because the office is not vacant,” Mr. Falana added.