By Abdoulaye Kay
The court action against Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa state is as a result of a letter to the Adamawa State House of Assembly seeking the consent of the House to secure $24,113,417.00 bank loan from Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to enable the state government construct three new science secondary schools in the three senatorial zones of the state.
The letter dated June 21, 2011 with reference number GHA/S/528/IV and addressed to the Honourable Speaker of the Adamawa State House of Assembly reads in part:”Consistent with the provisions of Section 120 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, I write to inform the Honourable House of the intention of Adamawa State Government to source USD $24,113,417.00 from Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to provide part financing for the construction of three (3) new Science Secondary Schools in Adamawa State.”
According to the letter, the proposed three schools would enroll a total of 1,320 students. The two boys-only schools to be located at Madagali in Madagali local government, in the Adamawa Northern Senatorial District and Mayo-Belwa in Mayo-Belwa local government, in the Adamawa Southern Senatorial District, respectively would have a total enrollment of 360 boys each. While Song, which is in Song local government of Adamawa Central Senatorial District will have a girls only enrolment capacity of 600 students.
“In the light of the foregoing and in view of the importance of the development of science education in Adamawa state,” Nyako’s letter continued, “I seek the consent of the Honourable House to secure loan of USD $24,113,417.00 from Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to provide part financing for the construction of three (3) new Science Secondary Schools in Adamawa state.”
The suit filed at the Adamawa State High Court on September 17, 2013 was instituted by Engr. Albert Stephen, who was a council chairman of Mayo-Belwa local government between 2004 and 2007; Dr. Penni Boga, who was a Sole Administrator of Lala Development Area in Gombi local government between 2007 and 2010 and Dr. Francis Zira, who was council chairman of Michika local government between 2004 and 2007.
Severally joined in the suit are Adamawa State Government, Governor Murtala Nyako, Adamawa State House of Assembly and Adamawa State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice.
The Plaintiffs claim that for Adamawa State government to seek approval to source for external loan of $24,113,417.00 (equivalent to N3,737,579,633.00) from IDB “at this point in time and having regards to her external and internal financial indebtedness, is altogether unreasonable, unwarranted and unconstitutional.”
The suit also seeks to describe any consideration or granting of approval by the House of Assembly as “unreasonable, unwarranted and unconstitutional.”
The Plaintiffs seeks the High court’s declaration that “obtaining a loan from Islamic Development Bank, which operates purely on Islamic Banking and Economic Principles” by Adamawa state government, is “discriminatory and a breach of the Governor’s Oath of Office under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.” They averred that the constitution prohibits discrimination based on religious beliefs among others.
Engr. Albert Stephen is of the view that Adamawa state is multi-religiously sensitive, which could aggravate sentiments along religious lines if the state government took any loan from an Islamic bank. “I know that the state is highly multi-religious and multi-ethnically sensitive and that in my local government alone, we have Christians, Muslims and believers in traditional religion with over 15 different languages or ethnic groups and this has made religion and ethnicity highly sensitive and volatile issues,” he averred in his Statement of Oath.
Considering the present statutory allocations to the state, the poor internally generated revenue and the current debt burden of the state, they argue, Adamawa “is not in a position to take a loan from IDB or any bank at all,” especially that, according to the Plaintiffs, the state already has heavy debt burden. They feel that taking another loan would put “unbearable burden on the state and her citizens.”
They are ready, they said, to provide and plead “relevant documents from the Debt Management Office (DMO)” to confirm their assertion.
Jointly, the Plaintiffs are seeking an order of perpetual injunction “restraining the Defendants jointly and or severally from further sourcing for External loans and or granting approval for the sourcing of external loans either from the Islamic Development Bank or any other bank or financial institution during the pendency of the terms of their governance/leadership.”
Pundits in the state have pointed political reasons to the legal action taken by the trio. A source close to government house in Yola told Newsdairyonline.com on condition of anonymity that the suit is politically motivated.
“You know the governor is not in the good books of the Presidency and the PDP at the National Secretariat. You also know that it is not Adamawa state government alone that has or is taking external loans. Then why is Adamawa state the cynosure of all eyes? Is the intended loan for development purpose or selfish?” the source retorted.