17th February, 2012
The office of the Governor of Kogi state was on Thursday thrown into fresh crisis following the failure of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to secure the seal of the Supreme Court over its resolution of the crisis created in Kogi state following the decision of the apex court sacking 5 former governors, including that of Kogi state.
Soon after the decision of the court which held that the former governors’ tenures elapsed on 29 May 2011, crisis erupted in the state over the directive of the Justice Minister, Mohammed Adoke, for the swearing in of Speakers of the respective states as Acting Governors. Kogi state at that time, already had a governor-elect awaiting inauguration.
A 7-man panel of the apex court led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, dismissed the application brought by the PDP, asking for consequential orders in respect of the court’s decision in the Tenure Elongation case in view of the furore created in Kogi state.
The court in its judgment on the tenure of the 5 state governors on 27 January 2012, had asked the then governors of Kogi, Bayelsa, Sokoto, Adamawa and Cross River to vacate their offices immediately.
The apex court did to make any consequential order taking into consideration the peculiar realities in Kogi state and this led to a confusion of great magnitude as both the acting governor and the governor-elect, laid claim to the office of the governor of the state.
The matter was tacitly resolved by the intervention of the PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, which directed that the governor-elect, Captain Idris Wada, to assume office.
While dismissing the application, the court held that any request for a consequential order must flow from the reliefs sought in the case from day one. It further held that the court lacks jurisdiction to import extraneous issues not placed before the court in the name of consequential orders.
“We are duty bound to deal with matters as brought before us, we don’t have jurisdiction to make consequential orders based on what was not before us. The decision we delivered in the case was for the determination of the tenure of the affected governors which we did. Any consequential order must be one flowing from the reliefs sought in the matter ab initio”
The 5 governors went to the Federal High Court asking it to hold that their tenure started to run from their second oath of office and oaths of allegiance.
Their suit was upheld by the court and was also affirmed by the appellate court until the judgments of the two courts were upturned by the Supreme Court. “We were not asked to make any order neither did applicant (PDP) file any cross-appeal to request for consequential order when the appeal was brought before us,” Musdapher maintained.
With the dismissal of this application which would have consolidated the tenure of Capt Idris Wada, the gate is further opened to other interest laying claim to the office.
The former candidate of the party, Mr. Jibrin Isah Echocho who emerged as the standard bearer of the PDP from an earlier primary of the party is already challenging the emergence of Capt Wada at the second primary election and the matter is pending at the Federal High Court while another case instituted by Mr. Bola Makinde, a chieftain of the party in the state restraining Wada from occupying the governor’s office is also before another Federal High Court, also in Abuja.
—Nnamdi Felix / Abuja