27 January 2012
Justices of the Supreme Court in Nigera today ruled that five state governors have no legal mandate to remain in office beyond May 2011.
A panel of the Nigerian apex court today ruled that the tenures of Timipre Sylva of Bayelsa, Murtala Nyako of Adamawa, Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko of Sokoto, Ibrahim Idris of Kogi and Liyel Imoke of Cross Rivers state had since expired since last year.
The justices declared their positions vacant.
A seven- man panel of the Supreme Court in a unanimous decision this morning sacked Governors Liyel Imoke, Murtala Nyako, Ibrahim Idris, Wamako and Temipre Silva of Cross River, Adamawa, Kogi, Sokoto and Bayelsa states from office.
The court in
held that the tenures of the governors started to count from the time they took their oath of office after emerging winners in their respective state governorship elections in 2007 and not from the period they took their second oaths of office after emerging winners of the re-run elections when there initial elections were nullified. Abuja
A Federal High Court had earlier held that their tenures of office started to run from their later oaths of office and oath of allegiance which they took upon their emergence as winners of their respective re run elections.
The apex court held that the trial court as well as the Court of Appeal erred in law when the considered the actions taken by the respective governors before their elections were nullified by the various Election Petition Tribunals as valid on one hand while discounting the time they spent doing those valid actions from their constitutionally prescribed tenure of office.
180. (1) subject to the provisions of this Constitution, a person shall hold the office of Governor of a State until -
(a) When his successor in office takes the oath of that office; or
(b) he dies whilst holding such office; or
(c) the date when his resignation from office takes effect; or
(d) he otherwise ceases to hold office in accordance with the provisions of this constitution.
In reaching their decision, the Supreme Court relied on section 180 (2) of the Constitution wherein the tenure of office of Governors were prescribed and held that that section did not envisage any form of elongation of occupants of the office of the Governor of the state as well as that of the President.
The section reads:
180 (2) Subject to the provisions of subsection (1) of this section, the Governor shall vacate his office at the expiration of period of four years commencing from the date when -
(a) in the case of a person first elected as Governor under this Constitution, he took the Oath of Allegiance and oath of office; and
(b) the person last elected to that office took the Oath of Allegiance and oath of office or would, but for his death, have taken such oaths.
The court held that the provisions of that section of the Constitution will stand violated if the tenure of office of the Governors is calculated from their second taking of Oath of Office and the Oath of Allegiance and stated that their tenure started counting from their first Oath of office which they all took after they were declared winners of the April 2007 elections and that they are entitled to four year terms from that date.