On Friday, the Nigerian Supreme Court sacked all the elected candidates of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Zamfara State during the 2019 general elections because the party did not carry out proper primary elections.
Many Nigerians believe it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a court to make an impactful ruling against a sitting government. It is true that there has been no ruling as powerful the overturning of the Presidential election results in Kenya but there have been exceptions where the rule of law prevailed against people in power.
While the unanimous judgement by the five man panel of justices may not be against sitting Governors since the affected candidates have not been sworn in, let us take a look at five other times sitting Governors have been removed from office, either through court rulings or impeachment:
1. Ayodele Fayose:
Ayodele Fayose is the last governor of Ekiti State but before his last tenure he was impeached from his position as Governor alongside Mrs Biodun Olujimi, his deputy, on claims of mismanaging public funds and carrying out serial killings.
In 2006, 24 out of the 26 legislators of the Ekiti State House of Assembly convened for an emergency session and proclaimed Fayose guilty of embezzling state funds. One of the cases in particular was the Ekiti State Poultry Project, which was handled by by Gbenga James. James, despite being Fayose’s childhood friend, was the star witness against him.
Fayose went on to contest for the Governorship position in 2014. He won and became the first Nigerian politician to defeat an incumbent Governor twice.
2. Peter Obi:
In 2006, Peter Obi got impeached as the Governor of Anambra State on allegations of gross misconduct.
Legislators of the Anambra State House of Assembly met and signed the resolution of the impeachment action.
The ruling eventually got overturned and he went to be the running mate of Atiku Abubakar in the 2019 Presidential elections.
3. Segun Oni:
Kayode Fayemi, the current Ekiti State Governor and Chairman of the Nigerian Governor’s Forum (NGF), may have been lucky recently in the Courts but this is not the first time. Segun Oni, the Ekiti State Governor, at the time, got replaced with Fayemi after an unanimous decision by the Appeal Court, sitting in Ilorin, the capital of Kwara State.
Justice Ayo Salami, who led four other judges, delivered the verdict which put to an end to the legal battle that lasted for almost three years and six months.
4. Rashidi Ladoja:
Another person who removed from his position as Governor by legislators was Rashidi Ladoja in 2006.
Ladoja got elected into the position in April 2003 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with the backing of Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu, an influential powerbroker in the party and in the state.
Less than one year after he got elected both Ladoja and Adedibu got locked in a battle over the allocation of government appointees. The PDP supported Adedibu. So it was no surprise that on January 12, 2006, legislators of the Oyo State House of Assembly impeached him and swore in his deputy, Adebayo Alao-Akala, as the new governor.
5. Chris Ngige:
The final Governor on this list who got unseated from his position was Chris Ngige in 2006.
His three-year reign as Governor was quite turbulent. His election victory in 2003 was controversial and not long after he had a fierce battle with his political Chris Uba. It got to a head when a fabricated letter of resignation got accepted by the State House of Assembly.
But that was not why he got unseated. That happened when in 2005, an election Tribunal led by Justice Nabaruma nullified Ngige’s victory and declared Peter Obi of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) as the winner. It was not possible to appeal the judgement so he accepted it in good faith and called on the people to support him.
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments.