29th January, 2012
As a fallout of last Friday’s decision of the Supreme Court which ousted governors of Cross River, Bayelsa, Adamawa, Kogi and Sokoto from office and the directives issued by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, to the respective Chief Judges of the affected states to swear in the Speakers of the states’ Houses of Assembly, a group has kicked against the minister’s directive following the confusion it has created in Kogi State.
The Governor-elect, Captain Idris Wada was sworn in by the President of the Customary Court of Appeal while the Speaker of the state’s House of Assembly, Hon. Abdulahi Bello, was sworn in as acting Governor by the Chief Judge in obedience to the Justice minister’s directive.
Accusing the minister of playing an ethnic card, the group, called Concerned Kogi Stakeholders, at a press briefing in Abuja stated that the swearing in of Wada subsists and remains valid and noted that if the recent development was not quickly addressed, the state could be plunged into anarchy.
An Abuja-based lawyer, Mr. Oluwafemi Emmanuel who spoke on behalf of the group said: “The judgment of the Supreme Court on Friday ordinarily would have passed as a normal ruling of one of our courts, but the malicious management of the outcome of that case as well as the absence of any consequential order laid the foundation for a mischievous and malicious interpretation which is highly condemnable”.
He added that by virtue of the provision of section 185 (2) 1999 of the Constitution, three officers were expressly and clearly identified as valid authority that could swear in an elected governor.
“Further to this argument is the fact that the three persons exist independently and the right to exercise this power does not depend on the absence of the Chief Judge of the state,” he added.
Mr Olufemi stated that the oath of office administered on Wada as the democratically and duly elected governor of Kogi State by the President of the Customary of Appeal was legal, valid and subsisting and that having already sworn in the governor-elect, the oath of office administered on the Speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly, who was also physically present at the swearing in of Wada as governor of the state was invalid.
He asserted that the judgment itself, upon which the Justice Minister relied and gave the directive that the Speaker of the House of Assembly be sworn in, did not provide for any consequential order.
“The advice of the AGF was wrong and unduly biased considering that he is not only from Kogi State but a Kinsman of both the state Chief Judge and the Speaker of the House of Assembly” the group claimed.
They further alleged that as an interested party, that the Minister could not have divorced his sentiments from the action he took without due recourse to the fact that there was a governor- elect who ought to take over immediately and noted that the circumstances in Kogi was not the same as those of Adamawa, Sokoto, Cross River and Bayelsa states.
The group observed that the declaration by the Supreme Court that the tenure of Governor Ibrahim Idris had expired, did not in any way, nullify the election of Wada.
—Nnamdi Felix / Abuja