The Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the former Governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako, to enter his defence in the N29 billion fraud case brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
In his ruling, Justice Okon Abang dismissed Nyako’s no-case submission.
The EFCC is prosecuting the former Governor alongside his son Abdulaziz and two companies on a 37-count charge of money laundering, criminal conspiracy, stealing and abuse of office.
The EFCC had, so far, called 21 witnesses to establish its claims against the former Governor and the co-defendants, but the Governor had submitted that he had no case to answer.
Nyako, a one-time military Governor of Niger State, served Adamawa as a civilian Governor between 2007 and 2014.
He was impeached by the state House of Assembly in July 2014 but was cleared by the Federal Court of Appeal in February 2016.
Although the Supreme Court also declared his impeachment null and void and ordered that all his entitlements be paid to him, it declined to reinstate Nyako, 78, as Governor in a December 2016 verdict.
A Legal Practitioner, Norrison Quakers, says the resignation letter of the Deputy Governor of Adamawa State, Bala Ngilari, still stands, as it was voluntary.
On Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise Daily, on Friday, Mr Quakers hinged his statement on the resignation letter of the Deputy Governor which was handed over to the speaker of the State House of Assembly before the impeachment of the Governor, Murtala Nyako.
Mr Quakers questioned why it took the former deputy governor a long while after the impeachment of the governor before he realised that the governor’s seat was vacant.
“Why did it take him several months to wake up to the realisation that there is vacancy. Where was he when the governor was at the impeachment proceedings?” He questioned.
Quakers, stressed that the letter still stands since it was a voluntary action of the deputy, emphasising that it does not matter who he gave the letter to, but the fact still remains that the “deputy governor has written a letter and he is as good as gone”.
Backing his statement, he stated that the constitution approved of the vacancy of the governorship position since the deputy governor resigned, an act he stressed made it possible for the Speaker of the House of Assembly to be sworn in.
“The constitution as it is, even though, is not a perfect document has provision for situations like we are experiencing currently in Adamawa State. The constitution, in section 191 stipulates what should be done if there is vacancy in the office. In all of this, the aspect of resignation is personal to the occupant or occupier of that office.
“Ordinarily the deputy governor should have stepped in after the governor’s impeachment. In the absence of the governor, the deputy acts as governor until the House of the Assembly gives a go ahead to swear him in,” he explained.
He stressed that Politicians in Nigeria, needed to be honourable, expressing disappointment with the deputy governor’s plan to return to the Government House after his resignation letter was made public.
“After the governor was impeached, a lot of us expected the deputy governor to be sworn in, only for us to hear he actually resigned. Now how come he is suddenly turning around to say that he never actually resigned.
“We should be honorable in this country. Did he leave the office? Yes he actually left the office,” Mr Quakers stressed.
He said that the former deputy governor apparently decided that rather than being subjected to an impeachment proceedings, he should resign.
“Now the deputy may have thought that a man who resigned can no longer be impeached, but governance is not by compulsion,” he insisted.
A Nigerian lawyer, Jiti Ogunye, says the process of the impeachment of Governor Tanko Al-makura that the lawmakers in the Nasarawa State House of Assembly has started has a “coloration of a fight against corrupt practices in government but in substance a tool for political intimidation and vendetta.
On Channels Television political programme, Politics Today, Mr Ogunye expressed worries that the impeachment was not what it appeared, describing it as a ploy to harass and intimidate political opposition.
On the legality of the process, he said that Section 188 of the constitution provided for impeachment as it relates to the office of the president and the governor.
“The constitution provided for the process and it requires just two-third of the members to initiate the process,” he said on the Sunday programme, explaining that after a panel’s sitting, that gives the individual the opportunity to come and respond to the allegations against him, a report would be submitted to the House of Assembly and when the individual is found guilty of the allegations and a vote is taken, with two-third in support of the removal of the occupant of the office, the individual would be removed.
After the impeachment of the Adamawa State governor, Murtala Nyako last week, the political party he belongs to, the All Progressives Congress, said it would contest the governor’s removal in court, insisting that the process was not legitimate.
But the lawyer said that the party should have contested the process before the removal of the governor and that the court would have to decide whether the process was legitimate or not.
The lawmakers in Nasarawa State insisted that they had served the governor a notice of impeachment through the media, but an official of the state government said that the governor had not been served any notice.
Mr Ogunye explained the controversy surrounding the claim that a notice has been served, saying: “Once a notice is to be served and you have a governor trying to evade service and that notice is then put up in the media, it can be said that the governor has a constructive notice of the claims”.
“There is no point for the governor to say that until the lawmakers see him personally that is when the notice is served.
“The hide and seek game is not what the constitution says should be done,” he stressed, but maintained that the whole impeachment saga was part of a political orchestration.
“If they succeed in Nasarawa they will continue in other places where they think that impeachment should be used as a ploy to harass and intimidate political opposition,” he said.
All political appointees in Adamawa State including commissioners, special adviser, principal special assistants and special assistants have been relieved of their appointments.
This is coming a day after the State House of Assembly impeached the governor, Admiral Murtala Nyako on allegations of financial impropriety against him and his deputy.
A statement signed by the newly appointed Secretary to the State Government, Proffesor Abdullahi Liman Tukur, said that all the appointees were directed to hand over all government properties in their custody to the various permanent secretaries.
The statement further directed all permanent secretaries to take full charge of all government assets in their respective ministries.
After the impeachment of the governor, the speaker of the House of Assembly, Umaru Fintiri, was sworn-in as the Acting Governor while the deputy speaker took over as the Speaker of the Assembly.
In a speech after his swearing in, the acting governor promised to pay civil servants their outstanding two months salaries.
One of Fintiri’s first task will be to sustain the peaceful atmosphere presently witnessed in the state after series of attacks by members of the Boko Haram sect terrorising states in the north east.
He urged the state’s indigenes to refrain from acts that could disrupt the peaceful atmosphere prevailing in the state.
Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states are under an emergency rule that has lasted for over one year due to the insurgency in the region which the Nigerian Armed Forces are tackling at the moment.
An Adamawa based group, Pene da Bwatiye, has accused the state government of not being proactive to address the security collapse in the state prior to the recent attack on Sunday, given security reports and threat to lives by the attackers.
The National President of the association, Prince Hezron A. Fada, at a press confrerence in Yola, the Adamawa state capital, alleged that the government was availed with the security reports and threats, but the government was nonchalant about addressing the problem.
“The security committees of the local governments had met severally and using laid down channels, communicated to the government and all indicators point to the fact that this attack was in the offing. It was the hope that security measures such as the deployment of troops would be taken to forestall the eventuality we witnessed yesterday” he claimed.
12 villages in Lamurde Local Government Area of Adamawa state were ransacked by people suspected to be mercenary cattle rearers, killing a number of people, during the attacks. The attackers were said to have stormed the communities at midnight of Sunday, having crossed River Benue, entering through Abbare, a border village between Taraba and Adamawa states.
The affected communities are: Bukutu, Luwafuti, Furtu, Wamsa, Suwa Bariki, Sulne, Wurki, Bang, Kullani, Murai, Kiza and Ninge. The Adamawa State Police Command confirmed the incident but only disclosed that five villages were attacked, while six people died as a result of the attack.
ASP Nemuel Yoila said the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Mark Idakpo, alongside mobile police troops had been dispatched to the crisis-torn areas.
Prince Fada accused the government of complicity saying “regrettably, no such steps were taken and it seemed that government deliberately turned deaf ears and blind eyes to what seemed obvious in surreptitious support of the act seen as a retaliation.”
According to him, the government got wind of the attack since January 2012 but government was not proactive to address the situation. “Governor Murtala Nyako failed to promptly address the situation when the association made a representation to him on the need to forestall the attacks, while security agencies were aware of the security implications to the phenomenon” he stated.
The association also condemned the alleged ineffectiveness of state governor in dealing with the situation, in that no investigation was carried out to arrest the culprits in the first attack and bring them to book, hence a reprisal attack allegedly steamrolled by the governor through connivance with the attackers.
The group also alleged that the use of hired nomadic Fulani mercenaries from the governor’s local government, Mayo Belwa, are waiting to attack Numan and Demsa local government areas and warned they will hold the governor responsible for any further attack on their kin and kith.
However, in a swift reaction, the Adamawa State Government has described the alleged nonchalant attitude of government, as false, baseless and unfounded, as no good government would incite one ethnic group against the other.
Secretary to the state government, Chief Kobis Ari Thimnu, told journalists that the governor, Murtala Nyako, had no right of constitutional mandate to command the military to take control of the situation in Lamurde Local Government as the military received command from their hierarchy in Abuja.
According to him, after the killings at Christ Apostolic Church in Yola, which claimed 11 lives, various security measures were taken by the state government toward avoiding further occurrence.