Supreme Court Sacks Five States’ Helmsmen: 2 Govs Emerge in Kogi

Nestor-Binabo-2701.jpg - Nestor-Binabo-2701.jpg
Bayelsa State acting governor, Nestor Binabo, removing the photograph of former governor, Timipre Sylva, shortly after being sworn in
By Tobi Soniyi, Segun James and Shola Oyeyipo
Confusion reigned Friday in Kogi as two governors were sworn in following the Supreme Court judgement sacking five governors.

The Governor-elect, (the Peoples Democratic Party candidate who won the December 3, 2011 governorship election in the state), Captain Idris Wada, and the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Alhaji Abdullahi Bello, were sworn in at different times.
The Supreme Court in its verdict held that the tenure of five state governors namely Ibrahim Idris (Kogi), Aliyu Wammako (Sokoto), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Liyel Imoke (Cross River) and Timipre Sylva (Bayelsa) ended on May 29, 2011.
A seven-man panel of justices led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, unanimously agreed that the governors were not entitled to stay beyond May 29, 2001.
And following the directive of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), speakers of the state houses of assembly in Cross River and Adamawa states were inaugurated to take over the affairs of the states.
Wada and his running mate, Mr. Yomi Awoniyi, were sworn-in by the President, Kogi State Customary Court, Justice Shuaibu Ibrahim Atadoga. The Speaker was said to be in attendance during Wada’s swearing-in.
While the duo of Wada and Yomi took oath of office and allegiance at about 3pm, the Chief Judge, Justice Nasir Ajanah, conducted another swearing-in at about 5pm. He swore-in the Speaker, Kogi State House of Assembly, Bello, as acting Governor.
If Supreme Court had not sacked the 5 governors, Wada would have taken over in Kogi on April 3 following his election.
The CJ said his action was predicated on the directive of the Attorney–General of the Federation (AGF).
He said it was the directive of the Supreme Court and there must not be vacuum in government.
The Director-General Media, Government House, Farouk Adejoh–Audu blamed the AGF for the confusion in Kogi saying it was Adoke who directed the chief judge of the state to swear in the speaker for alleged ethnic reasons after Wada had been inaugurated.
However, Alhaji Jibrin Isa, winner of the January 9, 2011 PDP primary in the state, described Wada’s swearing-in as an “illegality that cannot survive the test of time”.
In Sokoto, the swearing-in of the Speaker, Lawali Zayyana, could not be done last night as the Chief Judge was said to be unavailable.
Our correspondent who waited at the Government House, Sokoto till 10pm reported that the inauguration will now be done Saturday at 9am. The Speaker’s father, Alhaji Mohammad Zayyana is an influential traditional ruler in Sokoto (district head of Gwadabawa Local Government Area) and Wamakko’s mentor.
A statement signed by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister for Justice had said that the Inspector-General of Police and other law enforcement agencies had been directed to put in place appropriate security measures to ensure orderly transition and to avoid any breach of the peace.
The court noted that the intention of the lawmakers was that no governor should spend more than four years in office except he was re-elected for another four years.
Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Musdapher, chaired the seven-man panel of the apex court.
Other members of the panel are Justices Mahmud Mukhtar, Walter Onnonghen, Chukwuma Ene, Ibrahim Coomasie, Olufunlola Adekeye and Mary Peter-Odili.
The judgment is in an appeal by the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) governorship candidate in Adamawa State, Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Justice Walter Samuel Onnoghen who read the lead judgment held that to allow the governors to spend more than four years would lead to absurdity. He also said that such an interpretation was against common sense.
According to the court, to allow the governors to stay a day beyond May 29, 2011 would lead to a culture of impunity.
He said: "No governor can remain in office more than the years provided for by the constitution.
"To reject the period earlier spent is contrary to common sense and the intention of the constitution."
The court rejected the argument that the tenure of a governor started from the day he took the oath of office.
According to the court, the oath office to reckon with is the first oath which was purportedly nullified with the first election.
He said that the second oath they took when they won the re-run elections was mere superfluous.
Justice Onnoghen explained the rationale for the judgment thus: “It is settled law that the time fixed by the constitution for the doing of anything cannot be extended. It is immutable, fixed like the rock of Gibraltar. It cannot be extended, elongated, expanded, or stretched beyond what it states.”
He concluded thus: “It is therefore clear and I hereby hold that the second oaths of allegiance and of office taken in 2008 though necessary to enable them continue to function in their offices were clearly superfluous in the determination of the four years tenure under Section 180(2) of the 1999 Constitution.”
In Bayelsa, after a short but formal ceremony, which was conducted by the state Chief Judge, Justice Kate Abiri, the acting Governor, Nestor Binabo, removed the picture of Sylva and replaced it with his own. Another chapter has ended in the political history of the state.
Binabo said he would not condone crisis or violence during his short period as governor.
According to him, “I will shortly be meeting with all the security agencies in the state. My own is to make sure there is peace and ensure a peaceful election.”
When the news of the Supreme Court’s ruling came, there was indifference among the people who neither celebrated nor condemned the decision of the court.
But at about 3.30 pm, a former aide to Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, who was also an aspirant for the governorship, Chief Abel Ebifemowei, organized the people to rally in support of the court ruling.
At the swearing in, almost all the people were Sylva’s loyalists as the leadership of the PDP in the state kept away.
Access to Government House from the Mbiama-Yenagoa road along Onopa was cordoned-off by a Police truck and few policemen as motorists had to negotiate a diversion.
The Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, Hon. Larry Odey, took the oath of office as acting governor of the state at exactly 5.10 pm.
Once sworn in by the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Dorothy Eyamba-Idem, Odey called on political office holders, civil servants and other stakeholders to join him in making sacrifices for the growth of the state,” he said.
The Speaker of the Adamawa State House of Assembly, Alhaji Umaru Ahmadu Funtiri also took over as acting governor of the state.
He was sworn in by the acting Chief Judge of the state, Justice Popo Batima-wawes

No comments