Nigeria court removes five powerful state governors
27 January 2012, 17:30
Abuja - Nigeria's
Supreme Court ruled on Friday to remove five powerful state governors
from office because their tenures should have expired last year,
replacing them with the speakers of the house of assembly from the
The governors of Nigeria's 36 states are among the most powerful
politicians in Africa's most populous nation, in some cases controlling
budgets larger than other African countries.
The governors of Bayelsa, Cross Rivers, Kogi, Adamawa and Sokoto
all came into office in May 2007 but their four-year tenures were
terminated by election tribunals because of "irregularities". Fresh
elections were conducted the following year, which they all won again.
They won a court order last year which allowed them to run for
re-election in 2012 because they argued that their official four-year
tenure did not begin until the re-run in 2008.
But this legal victory was challenged by the Independent National
Electoral Commission with the Supreme Court, which ruled on Friday that
the governors' time in office ended in May 2011.
"To allow the governors seeking tenure elongation will allow a
culture of impunity in the system," Justice Walter Onnughen told the
governor's lawyers and public crowds in the gallery. He said it was a
unanimous decision by the seven judges.
"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.
Governorship elections are due to take place in the five states
on different dates this year and the current governors could run again
for a second and final term. None were immediately available following