By Okezi Uwede-Meshack
“Why did Ngilari write a resignation letter in the first place? If it is constitutional that upon impeachment of the Governor, the Deputy Governor takes over the seat, why was Ngilari not made the governor after the impeachment one day after his purported resignation?”
For me, I would argue that news headlines have almost become an act of terrorism. The only exemption they receive is that they are probably not announced with deliberate aforethought malice as defined under the Section 1 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act of 2011. The shock and disbelief that must have met most Nigerians on the 8th of October, 2014 at the announcement of the headline carrying the news of the judgment of the Federal High Court on the Adamawa state gubernatorial issue, is one that leads to this discourse on the function of the law and its interpretation as well as the need for accountability of the leaders of our great country. Bala Ngilari was the Deputy Governor of Adamawa State until he purportedly resigned on July 14th, 2014. The next day, Murtala Nyako the Governor at the time was impeached and Ahmadu Fintiri the speaker of the House of Assembly of the State declared the seat vacant and assumed office as acting governor. Now this political drama would form the basis of a suit begun in August to reverse the resignation and stop by-elections planned and scheduled by INEC to fill the political vacuum created by the impeachment.
Like most life scenarios, there is more than one side to this drama. Sitting on a coffee table (even though I detest the taste of coffee) with a few friends with diverse yet vast knowledge of Nigerian polity and legal system, I garnered that a faction would interpret the Ngilari drama as a mere dribble by the Speaker to get into the governorship seat in the first place. So after first of all creating a tantrum out of the obvious acquiesced fact of corruption and dictatorship of the Governor, the Speaker decided to launch war with his legislative leadership against the executive leadership and effect impeachment of the Governor. The next plan was to take Bala, the Deputy Governor out of the picture. So as fate, fortune and luck would smile on Mr. Speaker, it so happened that the Deputy decided to write a secret letter of resignation to him. He thus moved into action and instead of treating the letter as “secret” he decided to make it a subject of debate and the resignation was accepted and out went Mr. Deputy with a set ground for the emergence of Mr. Speaker to be Governor (Acting). So this faction would argue that indeed justice has been restored to the state by reinstating Ngilari as the Governor after a declaration of his resignation as null and void under the constitution.
The other side to it is merely one of logic and conscience. This side would interpret the situation differently. That the judgment of the Federal High Court was indeed right to hold that the resignation was not constitutional, but should have stopped Ngilari from denying his actions. If a man writes a resignation letter, it means that he has the intentions to so resign. He didn’t just write it, he also addressed it to the Speaker of the House of Assembly. One of the several maxims of equity is that equity imputes an intention to fulfil an obligation; another one says you cannot approbate and reprobate at the same time. There is another principle of equity called estoppel, which seeks to deny a person from enjoying the fruits of a misrepresentation made that has altered positions of some sort. All these principles if applied to this case would reduce the court decision to error. This faction would thus argue that although it is constitutionally wrong, it is inequitable to reinstate the purportedly resigned governor.
Whichever side of the screen the drama is watched from, one thing remains, the actors are indeed jaundiced and their actions are certainly not real and for no good of the country. Questions should be asked: Why did Ngilari write a resignation letter in the first place? If it is constitutional that upon impeachment of the Governor, the Deputy Governor takes over the seat, why was Ngilari not made the governor after the impeachment one day after his purported resignation? Wouldn’t this rather mean that Ngilari’s resignation was received, debated on, and decided upon on the same day? If Ngilari claims the letter was written under duress, why was there no immediate access to the court? If it was even duress, why claim that it was a personal “secret” letter?
The problem, if there is any from this situation, is not any of the actors (Fintiri, Nyako, Ngilari and guest appearance Justice Adeniyi Ademola). The problem would be their actions, which is only a reflection of the values that we have in our large society of impunity, and a dearth of worth, truth and substance. If only these leaders cared about the citizenry, if only they knew they would be held accountable for their actions and words, they would have acted the script out a different way. The only way they can do so, is when people like you and I in the cinema watch, and send in reviews and critiques for better acting in the next episode. By this I mean let us ask questions, take interest in the polity, criticize constructively and also live positively.
Long live Adamawa, Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!
Okezi Uwede-Meshack writes exclusively for BREAKING TIMES every Wednesday in the column, Game of Thrones. He can be followed on Twitter at @okezimesh
The opinions expressed by columnists in the published feature – Game of Thrones do not reflect the “OPINION and or “POLICY” of BREAKING TIMES as an online news media publishing establishment. Words on this page remain at all times, the literary expression of the writers’ creative imagination.