by Adebayo Rayo
“…Nyako, on his part, made radio announcements to the effect that he is not leaving office yet…”
On Friday, the Supreme Court sacked the governors of five states, declaring their tenures long over. The 7 justices, headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Dahiru Musdapher, ordered the sack of Sokoto State Governor, Aliyu Wammako; Bayelsa State Governor, Timipre Sylva; Cross River State’s Liyel Imoke; Kogi State’s Ibrahim Idris; and Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State.
All five governors, who are members of the ruling party PDP, were first sworn into office in 2007, but due to irregularities, their elections were nullified in 2008 and fresh elections ordered, which they all won.
The governors then argued that their tenures do not expire till 2012 because of the fresh elections conducted in 2008, a position challenged by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The Supreme Court decision
“To allow the governors seeking tenure elongation will allow a culture of impunity in the system,” Justice Walter Onnughen said, explaining the rationale behind the Supreme Court decision. “Their tenure started from the day their first oath of office was administered… no person can remain in office more than the four years provided for by the constitution,” Onnughen said.
The governors have been replaced with the speakers of their various state house of assembly, in accordance with the constitution, pending the conduct of fresh elections in their various states by INEC. In Kogi State, where the elections have already held and the governor-elect, Idris Wada was first sworn in, the Attorney General of the Federation ordered that the speaker of the house of assembly should be sworn-in in Wada’s stead.
The Governors React
Cross River Governor, Liyel Imoke, immediately vacated office, just as the Kogi State Governor, Ibrahim Idris was quick to get the governor-elect sworn in. However, not all the governors took the Supreme Court judgment in their stride.
Bayelsa Governor, Timipre Sylva was rumoured to have gone “into ‘hiding”, even though his spokesperson said the judgment was only “a temporary setback”. Adamawa State governor, Nyako, on his part, made radio announcements to the effect that he is not leaving office yet, with the attorney general of the state also saying the Supreme Court ruling had no ‘consequential orders’.
The Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, however instructed the Inspector-General of Police and other law enforcement agencies to “put in place, appropriate security measures to ensure orderly transition and to avoid any breach of the peace”.