Some lawyers have criticised the removal of Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State, arguing that the process of his removal did not comply with the law.
Mr. Emeka Ngige (SAN) on Tuesday urged the governor to challenge his removal in court. The lawyer, who expressed confidence that the removal of the governor would be nullified in court, criticised the failure of the investigative panel to ensure that the notice of impeachment was personally served on the governor.
He said, “I believe that the process will be nullified in court, it is only a matter of time. Ladoja suffered the same thing Oyo State. Similar thing happened in Anambra. They went to a hotel to imepach Ladoja.
“You cannot serve impeachment notice on somebody through substituted means. That was part of the reasons Ladoja’s impeachment was set aside.”
He also expressed concern over the the implication of calling on the military to provid protection for the Acting Chief Judge while setting up the panel.
He said, “It’s part of the danger of our militarised democracy. This will not do this country any good. A situation where a Chief Judge is surrounded by soldiers with a view to setting up a panel.
“I don’t think that is what the drafters of our constitution had in mind when they created various arms of government to handle impeachment.
“When you bring in the soldiers to now meddle in the process, then you are polluting the entire exercise.”
On his part, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), said he would not want to comment on the process as he, along with other lawyers, was already in court challenging the impeachment notice served on the governor.
Another Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Yusuf Alli, who said he had not followed the process leading to the impeachment of the governor, said “we already saw it coming.”
Chief Felix Fagbohungbe, however, said the impeachment of the governor, was a demonstration of the Peoples Democratic Party’s moves to take over states being governed by the All Progressives Congress.
He however said, even if the process had been manipulated, reversing it in court would be a herculean task.
Fagbohungbe said, “Ordinarily, the procedure would have been followed, but whether the intention was proper is another thing because it has political undertone. It is the PDP that is at work.
“The PDP wants to take over the states controlled by the APC and the more they try to take over the APC states, the better chance the PDP to win the PDP presidential election.
“They would follow the procedure, even when they follow it, they would manipulate it, by making sure that they get the right person, who will do their bid to take over. It is a pity that it will create more problems that Nigerians want to see.
“Even if you take it to court, any court procedure to reverse it will be an herculean task.”
Chairman, Civil Society Network Against Corruption, Mr. Lanre Suraj, also condemned the impeachment of the governor.
He also encouraged Nyako to challenge his removal in court, arguing that the failure to personally serve the governor with the impeachment notice had rendered the whole process a nullity.
He also faulted the intention of the PDP-dominated House of Assembly to impeach the governor as the allegations levelled against the former governor could be said to have been committed while was still in the PDP.
Suraj said, “Even if the parliament has the constitutional power to impeach a governor when there are infractions in his actions, the process that has just been employed is not too clean and clear enough.
“There is a process the impeachment is supposed to be served on the governor. The question you will ask yourself is will Nyako had been impeached if he was still in PDP? All the allegations he was accused of were activities he carried out when he was under PDP.
“I encourage Nyako to go to court and if our judiciary is truly independent, the process of his impeachment will be nullified.”
But Dr. Joseph Nwobike (SAN) expressed contrary opinion, arguing that the procedure for impeachment as set out in the Constitution was substantially complied with.
He said failure of the removed governor amounted to an admittance of the charges levelled against him.
Nwobike said, “I think the procedure of impeachment set out in the constitution was substantially complied with.
“The problem was that the former governor refused to appear before the panel and it means that if you refused to appear before the panel, all the allegations of misconduct levelled against him were proved.
“It means there was no contrary evidence against the allegations. So the panel was right to have given a guilty verdict against the former governor.”