Former acting governor of Adamawa State, Umar Fintiri, has insisted that the ousted governor of the state, Murtala Nyako, received the resignation letter of his erstwhile deputy, Bala Ngilari, before his (Nyako’s) impeachment on July 15.
He said contrary to the judgment of a Federal High Court, Abuja, which removed him as the acting governor on Wednesday, Nyako had after receiving Ngilari’s resignation letter also nominated a state legislator, Adamu Kamale, to replace him (Ngilari).
Fintiri, through his counsel, Mr. Duro Adeyele (SAN), stated this in his eight-ground notice of appeal filed shortly after the Justice Adeniyi Ademola of a Federal High Court in Abuja delivered the judgment on Wednesday.
Justice Ademola had held in his judgment that the purported resignation letter by Fintiri was of no effect since it was addressed to the Speaker of the Adamawa State House of Assembly instead of Nyako, who was then the governor of the state.
The court therefore held that the said resignation by Ngilari was null and invalid as it failed to meet the “strict requirements” of the provisions of section 306(1), (2) and (5) of the Constitution.
Ngilari was sworn in as the substantive governor in Yola, Adamawa State capital in compliance with the judgment shortly after it was delivered in Abuja on Wednesday.
But Ngilari urged the appellate court to set aside the judgment as the trial court erred in law for not giving room to call witnesses to prove that Nyako actually received Ngilari’s letter of resignation before he was removed as governor by the state House of Assembly.
He maintained that Nyako had after receiving Ngilari’s resignation letter, wrote a letter informing the state House of Assembly the development and also nominated Kamale as his replacement.
Ground 1 of his notice of appeal states, “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.”
The particulars of his first ground of appeal read, “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.”
The former acting governor reiterated this point in his sixth and seventh grounds of appeal, arguing that the allegation of forgery of the letter, which Nyako purportedly wrote to the House of Assembly nominating Kamale to replace Ngilari, was not proved beyond reasonable doubt.
The notice appeal reads in part, “Ground 6: The learned trial judge 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.
“Ground 7: 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.”
Justice Ademola had stated in his judgment that Fintiri, during the hearing of the case, that the said documents said to have been authored by Nyako were of “doubtful origin”.
The judge said the documents were inadmissible as Fintiri was unable to produce the original copies of the letters or their Certified True Copies despite being in the control of the Government House, where the said documents were supposed to have been kept for about three months.
The grounds of the appeals and their particulars are, “The learned trial judge erred in law when he held that the case can only be heard and determined on the basis of the votes and proceedings of the second defendant contained in Exhibit B and no other evidence.
“The learned trial judge erred in law when in law when he held that the 3rd and 4th defendants waived their right to object to the defect in the writ.
“The learned trial judge erred in law when he granted leave to amend the process in this case, the irregularity in question having gone to the root of the originating process and the whole suit.
“The learned trial judge erred in law when he held that Exhibit B attached to the affidavit in support of the originating summons needed not be certified to be admissible.
“Exhibit B is a photocopy of the votes and proceedings of the 2nd defendant, which was not signed by the authorised party.
“The learned trial judge erred in law when he held that Exhibits Au1 and Au2 are public documents which were not certified by the proper authority.”
Meanwhile, our correspondent learnt on Thursday that Fintiri had yet to file a motion for stay of execution of the judgment.
Checks by our correspondent showed that as of 2pm on Thursday, Fintiri had only filed a notice of appeal before the Federal High Court without being accompanied with any motion for stay of execution of the judgment.
This was contrary to the claim he made through a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Bayo Ojo, shortly after Justice Ademola delivered the judgment on Wednesday.