27 February 2008

Nigeria: Aftermath of Tribunal Judgement - Adamawa AG Gov Sworn-in As Tribunal Sacks Nyako

Yola — An Acting Governor for Adamawa State has been sworn in yesterday night at the Government House in Yola. He is James Barka, until now the speaker of the State House of Assembly.

He was sworn in by the State Chief Judge, Justice Bamare Bansi.

The 47 year-old former bank manager rose to his new position following the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Jos which upheld the nullification of Governor Murtala Nyako's election. The court ordered the swearing in of the speaker to act as governor pending the conduct of a fresh governorship election in the state.

In his brief address, the Acting Governor promised to work with interest groups in the state to ensure successful transition in the state. He also pledged to make some administrative changes to suit the current situation in the state.

Mr Barka urged all political parties to support him, promising that he would run an open administration that would welcome any genuine idea that would make his stay a success.

He also pleaded with the people of the state to cooperate with to achieve his good intention.

Hundreds of his supporters trooped to the Government to witness the ceremony which could not hold in time because the court order to inaugurate him did not come in time.

The former governor, Vice Admiral Murtala Nyako and his key officials were not at the ceremony.

Daily Trust learnt that they had travelled out of the state, with most of them said to have gone to Abuja and Jos where they witnessed the judgement of the Court of Appeal.

Earlier in the day, most government offices in the ministries and government agencies were deserted. But in the markets and on the streets of the state capital people were busy going about their normal duties, without showing any concern over the nullification of the election. There was no sign of any increase in police presence on the streets and no sign of any breach of peace.

There were jubilations among supporters of the Action Congress (AC) in Adamawa State when they heard about the Court of Appeal's judgment. Many of them moved around the state capital on their vehicles with the posters of the party's governorship candidate, Ibrahim Bapetel, and the party's flags, chanting victory songs. Bapetel and most of the party leaders were not in the state yesterday. Bapetel was said to have gone to Abuja while the party leaders were said to have gone to Jos to witness the judgment.

At the state headquarters of the party, along Mohammed Mustapha Way, hundreds of the AC supporters gathered with their brooms, celebrating their victory at the court. They said the appeals court had confirmed their stand that INEC committed illegality, not election, in Adamawa State. One of them, Hajiya Kaduna Talba, told Daily Trust that AC would use the opportunity given her for fresh election to show PDP that it had no base in the state. "We will teach them a good lesson and show them that the people of the state are with us," she said.

However, the headquarters of the ruling PDP in the state was general deserted as its leaders too had all gone to Jos and had not returned at the time of filing this report yesterday evening. But a few of the party supporters left in the office said they were not depressed with the verdict, nullifying their election. One of them, Sani A Mohammed, said they were expecting this verdict because, according to him, Nigerian judges have shown ability to rule in accordance of the law. He said PDP was ready for a fresh election in the state and "it will be victorious". Mohammed said: "We are well prepared for this. And this time around it will be a real show of strength. We'll re-take our seat. The Speaker who is also our man, will be acting as governor and we will win the election".

Earlier, the state deputy chairman of the opposition All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP), Alhaji Inusa Dantakarda, had told Daily Trust that the judgment had reinforced the hope of Adamawa people on judiciary's ability to defend the interest of the deprived.

"We are happy with the judgment and the court has confirmed its ability to sustain democracy in this country," he said.

Born in 1961 in Kala'a town of Hong Local Government Area in Adamawa State, James Barka attended Kala'a Primary School and Teachers' College in Bazza, Michika and Numan all in the state. He then moved to Ahmadu Bello University Zaria between where he obtained a Diploma in Banking in 1984.

He joined Allied Bank Nigeria PLC in 1985 where he rose to the position of a manager He remained a manager for six years until he resigned in 1997. He set up his private enterprises among them Jambarka Ventures Limited of which he was the Group Managing Director. In 2002 he joined politics and contested for the Hong State constituency in a bye-election in 2002 under the People's Democratic Party (PDP) where he emerged victorious and became a member of the State House of Assembly. He re-contested for the same seat in 2003 elections and won. He was elected majority leader in the House, but was later deposed during the Third Term campaign controversy, when some of the anti-tenure elongation members of the House accused him of backing former President Olusegun Obasanjo's tenure elongation project. But Mr Barka later reconciled with the other members. In 2007 April elections, he retained his seat in the House and was elected the Speaker in June 2007, the position he has been holding until yesterday when he became Acting Governor. He is married with three children.

Earlier in Jos the Federal Court of Appeal, Jos, sent Nyako packingwhen it upheld the ruling of the Adamawa state petition tribunal, nullifying his election as governor of Adamawa state.Nyako had appealed the ruling of the Adanawa state election petition tribunal, which nullified his election as governor of the state based on a petition filed by the AC candidate in the state, Ibrahim Bapetel.

The now ousted governor filed an appeal against the ruling while Bapetel, also filed a cross appeal demanding he be declared winner in the election.

But the appeal court while pronouncing judgement upheld the ruling of the Adamawa tribunal and ordered Nyako to immediately vacate office as governor of Adamawa state.

Justice Isa salami who gave the ruling, directed Nyako to hand over the affairs of the state to the speaker of the State's House of Assembly while election should be conducted within 60 days by INEC to fill the position of the governor.

The court stressed that this time, Bapetel, who is the AC gubernaotrial candidate be allowed to contest the election along with other candidates of the other parties having been duly sponsored by his Party.

The court however failed to grant the prayers raised by Bapetel, in the cross appeal; that he should be declared the winner of the elections.

The Jos Appeal Court also ruled in the appeal filed by the PDP candidate in the last gubernaotrial elections in Yobe state, Alhaji Adamu Maina Waziri challenging the ruling of the election petition tribunal in Yobe which upheld the declaration of Mamman Ali as governor of Yobe state.

Justice M.L. Garba who gave the ruling, dismissed the appeal by Waziri and ruled that it lacks merit.

He noted that the central issue in the case filed by Waziri was the pronoucement made in respect of the declaration of Mamman Ali as governor of Yobe state and stressed that the judgment of the tribunal was right, saying, the court failed to see how the appeal filed by the PDP candidate differs from the one earlier filed at the High court in Maiduguri.

The court which also delivered judgment in the case between the AC candidate in Plateau state, PD Gyang, challenging the ruling of the Jos tribunal which threw out the petition against the declaration of Jonah Jang as governor of Plateau state, for being filed out of time, upheld the ruling of the tribunal, and affirmed that the petition filed by Gyang was indeed out of time.

Justice MS Ngwattu who delivered the judgement, said the appeal was therefore devoid of merit and quickly dismissed the appeal based on the ruling by the tribunal that it was filed outside the 30 days stipulated by law.

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