The noose of impeachment is tightening around the neck of Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State, who is equally fighting frantically to retain his seat. But can he succeed in frustrating his impeachment process by the State House of Assembly?
| By Olu Ojewale | Jul. 21, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT
LIKE a drowning man, Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State is clinging to every straw available to save his political career. In the last few days, he has been using everything in the political books to stave off the impeachment noose tightening around his neck. He is facing a possible removal from office by the Adamawa State House of Assembly. But for how long the straw is going to save him is anybody’s guess. For instance, while a seven-man panel of investigation constituted to look into offences allegedly committed by him, was sitting in a private hotel in Yola, capital of Adamawa State, the governor was in Abuja on Tuesday, July 8, to attend a meeting of the National Council of State, NCS, where he was said to have enlisted the assistance of his former military colleagues to help intervene in the impeachment threat saga.
According to sources, Nyako, a retired naval admiral, was said to have appealed to generals Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar, both former heads of state, to speak to President Goodluck Jonathan to intervene so as not to be disgraced out of office. Another source said it was former President Olusegun Obasanjo who prompted Nyako to attend the NCS meeting. The presence of Obasanjo, at the July 8, NCS meeting, which he had not attended for a very long time, lent credence to the speculation. It is believed that the meeting was used as an opportunity to appeal to President Jonathan to intervene in the impeachment saga.
It was not clear what assurance the president gave to the former leaders on the governor’s case, but the president was said to have insisted that the governor should withdraw his contentious memo to the Northern Governors’ Forum, NGF, and publicly apologise for his indiscretion. But Nyako was said to have refused to eat his humble pie and said, instead, he would rather leave office than withdraw the letter because he would not like to be placed in a position that would jeopardise the security of his people.
Nyako had, in a memo to the NGF last April, alleged that there was a full-fledged genocide against the northern states and that the federal government was using the attack on Boko Haram to massively kill northerners. He also alleged that most of the soldiers of northern origin recently recruited to fight Boko Haram had not been properly trained for the battle. ‘‘They are being poorly trained, totally ill-equipped, given only uniform and are killed by their trainers in Nigerian Army training centres as soon as they arrive in the Nigerian Army camps being used by the so-called Boko Haram insurgents. Virtually all the Nigerian soldiers killed/murdered in these operations so far are of Northern Nigeria origin. The administration has also hired militia men from across the continent, especially North Africa, who have been deceived into accepting to come because they were made to believe that they would be fighting infidels,” Nyako’s letter said in part.
Whatever the outcome of the intervention of the former heads of state, it would gladden the hearts of his supporters to know that Nyako still enjoys some measure of support among the traditional rulers in the state. A similar intervention effort to save the governor has come from the eight emirates across Adamawa State under the leadership of Mohammadu Musdafa, the Lamido of Adamawa. The emirs met at the palace of the Lamido for several hours in Yola, on Tuesday, as part of the efforts to resolve the political impasse. Although the details of the meeting was not made known, independent sources said the royal fathers resolved to use their influence in the state to persuade members of the House of Assembly to soft-pedal on their decision to remove the governor. It was also resolved that some federal lawmakers and political heavyweights from the state would meet with Nyako in Abuja on Tuesday night to brainstorm on the best way out of the crisis.
Prominent among persons expected at the meeting were Atiku Abubakar, former vice-president and Nuhu Ribadu, former chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. Abubakar former foe of Nyako in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, recently joined forces with Ribadu with the aim of helping the governor to stave off the impeachment threat. Abubakar and Ribadu actually relocated to Yola on Monday, July 7, where the former VP was said to have met with the former EFCC boss and some key leaders of the All Progressives Congress, APC. However, a source was quoted as saying that: “The forces from Abuja against Nyako are overwhelming. But Atiku, Ribadu and APC leaders are intensifying the lobbying of lawmakers to save Nyako. Since Atiku flew into Yola early on Monday, he has been holding consultations with Ribadu who has been in the state since Friday. But the lawmakers are adamant, insisting that Nyako must go.”
To save his job, Nyako had run to the temple of justice and got a high court order to restrain the speaker, his deputy and other lawmakers and the PDP from removing him from office. After that, there was a temporary relief. Justice Ambrose Mammadi, the then acting chief judge, granted the request for an order of interim injunction restraining members of the House of Assembly, from taking any further action on the impeachment process. But two days later, the same acting CJ reversed himself and constituted a seven-member panel to kick-start an impeachment process.
Commenting on the new twist in the impeachment saga, some lawyers said if the inauguration did not take place before the end of the tenure of the CJ, a new CJ would have to be appointed before the investigative committee could perform its duty. However, since the responsibility of appointing a new CJ also rests with the state governor, it is suspected that Nyako would like to appoint anyone that would not be sympathetic to his plight. Criticising the move by the CJ to set up the panel, Phineas Padio, publicity secretary of the APC in the state, wondered why Mammadi still went ahead to set up the panel after he had ruled that the method used by the lawmakers to serve the impeachment notice on the governor and his deputy was unconstitutional.