The Supreme Court has on Friday morning sacked 5 powerful state governors from office in a tenure elongation ruling delivered in Abuja, replacing them with the speakers of the house of assembly from the respective states.
The 7-panel of justices headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Dahiru Musdapher, ordered the sack of Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Timipre Sylva and his Sokoto State counterpart, Aliyu Wammako, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris (Kogi State), Admiral Murtala Nyako (Adamawa State), and Senator Liyel Imoke (Cross River State). The five of them belong to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The justices approved the appeal filed by INEC and Adamawa State governorship candidate, Buba Marwa, that the tenure of the governors ended on May 29, 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 the hearing.
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.