Admiral Murtala Nyako's (rtd) days as governor of Adamawa State may be numbered as the state’s Acting Chief Judge, Justice Ambrose Mammadi Friday finally set up a seven-man committee to investigate the alleged gross misconduct and misappropriation leveled against him and his deputy, Bala James Ngilari by the state lawmakers.
Also on the same day, Governor Nyako exonerated President Goodluck Jonathan over speculations that the President was the brain behind the current impeachment moves instituted by the State House of Assembly against him and Ngilari.
Nyako had earlier obtained an injunction to stop the Assembly from going ahead with the impeachment process against him and his deputy. But an Adamawa State High Court presided over by the same Justice Mammadi on Thursday ruled on the substantive suit, stating that no breach of Section 188 (1-9) of the provisions of 1999 Constitution as amended was committed by the Assembly.
The Adamawa State House of Assembly had last week directed the acting Chief Judge to constitute the investigative panel, but he hesitated, leaving many wondering whether he would not implement the directives.
Justice Mammadi said the constitution of the investigative panel yesterday was based on the power conferred on him by the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
A press release signed on his behalf by the Chief Registrar, Adamawa High Court, Abubakar M. Bayola reads: “The Hon. Acting Chief Judge Hon. Justice Ambrose D. Mammadi by the powers vested in him under Section 185(5) of the 1999 constitution as (amended) has approved the appointment of seven (7) Man Panel to investigate allegations of Gross Misconduct against the Executive Governor of Adamawa State, Admiral Murtala Nyako and the Deputy Governor of Adamawa State Mr. Bala Ngilari
“The seven (7) man committee will be chaired by Buba Kaimaga (Mubi Northern Zone) while the following people are members: Hajia Laraba Hassan (Michika Northern Zone); Njidda Kito (Song Central Zone); Joshua T. Abu (Hong Central Zone); Barrister. Binanu R. Esthon(Guyuk Southern Zone); Alhaji Sa'ad Lawan ( Mayo-Belwa, Southern Zone) and Mr. Esthon Gapsiso (Genye Southern Zone)
The statement added that the swearing-in date of the panel members would be communicated later.
The Assembly which last week directed Justice Mammadi, to constitute the investigative panel based its submission on section 188, subsection 3 & 4 of the 1999 constitution of as amended and added that it had formed the two-third majority required by law, “which is 20 out of 25 lawmakers in the assembly that appended their signatures for the governor and his deputy to be investigated.”
During the plenary session to discuss the impeachment notice, the Speaker, Fintiri called each member one after the other publicly to ascertain whether the signatures appended to oust Nyako and his deputy were theirs “so as dispel the allegations that some members had withdrawn from the impeachment moves and the 20 members including the speaker openly agreed before the public that it was their signatures and that they were determined to continue the impeachment process.”
The Speaker said the proceedings of the panel are expected to be held in public and shall be conducted from of 9 a.m to 5p.m. each day for seven days.
The Speaker also said the decision was taken because of the failure of Nyako and Ngilari to defend themselves all the charges leveled against them by the assembly, adding that all constitutional process at their disposal had been done.
Fintiri explained that among other things, by law, two-third of the lawmakers had signed that the two principal executive officers be investigated by the panel to be constituted by the acting Chief Judge of the state.
During the sitting, the assembly also adopted the Panel of Investigation Rules of Procedure of the state, which should include a chairman, secretary and five others, and should adopt ordinary rules of fair hearing.
He said the panel may, however, at its discretion, be guided by the High Court Civil Rules of the state and the provisions of the Evidence Act of 2009.
In a related development, Governor Nyako yesterday exonerated President Goodluck Jonathan over speculations that the President was the brain behind the current impeachment moves instituted by the State House of Assembly against him and his deputy, Bala James Ngilari.
The governor while addressing Journalists at the Yola Government House yesterday after his return from Abuja, said the bids to oust him was the handiwork “of some desperate politicians of the state based in Abuja and not the President as earlier insinuated by some people.”
Nyako who was out of the state for close to three weeks “to allow the impeachment moves and political tensions calm down” said some senior citizens of Adamawa were responsible for the current political crisis ravaging the state, stressing that no external forces were involved in the scheme.
“The presidency is not plotting to remove me from office contrary to speculations. Because Adamawa State has a lot of intellectual and prominent persons in government and beyond, when a matter crops up like this one, it attracts different perspectives and approaches. That is the reason for the political differences we have but not much of outside interference,” he said.
The governor said he was flabbergasted when the same House of Assembly of recent extolled his leadership style and passed vote of confidence on him and his administration but turned around and accused him of gross misconduct and misappropriation, adding that the situation called for sober reflections.
“As I was coming back from Abuja, I came to certain conclusions on all the issues raised and I find the allegations against me were nothing too serious. Three months ago, the house itself had passed a verdict praising my administration of transparency and best performing governor Adamawa ever had. Well, I don’t want them to lose that faith,” Nyako said.
The embattled governor debunked allegations of gross misconduct leveled against his administration, saying that he would be the most concerned if financial misappropriation was carried out in his administration, adding that no such fraud was carried out under his tenure.
He further assured that should there be any case fraud, he would assist the legislators to expose it in order to entrench good governance.
However the governor said after understudying the situation, he came to the conclusion that all the commissions and omissions raised, were not the type that would lead somebody to court to prove whether he is guilty or not.
Nyako said he was making efforts at the EFCC to defreeze the state accounts, frozen as a result of the impeachment saga just as he was working round the clock to meet with some prominent Adamawa indigenes to wade into the matter.
“Very soon, all forces of reconciliation will be set in motion. We will use our kinship, traditional and religious leaders to calm down the situation. I am also pleading with the EFCC to defreeze our account. Adamawa is a poor state and depend only on Federal Allocation to pay its salary so that our people can have reprieve during the Ramadan. If that was not successful, I will challenge that in court as a Supreme Court has already said EFCC has no reason to freeze any account,” Nyako said.
Meanwhile another drama unfolded yesterday as youths allegedly loyal to Nyako harassed some of the governor’s commissioners at the gate of the Yola Government House.
The irate youths alleged that the harassed commissioners did not drum up support for Nyako when the impeachment process began but were only there to pay lip service to him.
However the drama resulted in the smashing of vehicles of the affected commissioners and other top government officials. Some were even physically assaulted for allegedly abandoning the governor.