S'COURT DECIDES ON TENURE ELONGATION TODAY
The Supreme Court would today decide whether or not the tenure of offices of Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State where the April 2011 general election did not hold had expired.
Four other governors whose tenures may be affected one way or the other are Governor Ibrahim Idris of Kogi State, Governor Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto State, Governor Timipre Sylva of Bayelsa State and Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State all of whom had remained in their respective offices following an Appeal Court judgment that their tenures would end next year.
Three legal luminaries; Richard Akinjide SAN, Joseph Ajayi SAN and Professor Itsey Sagay summoned by the apex court to address it on the appeal filed by the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] against the lower court decision, were yesterday served their briefs of arguments on Governor Murtala Nyako, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), INEC, and Buba Marwa Congress For Progressive Change (CPC) who are parties in the appeal.
In his brief to the court, Professor Sagay said: 'I agree entirely with the Appellant's counsel when he states at paragraph 5-50 of his brief, that a court will not lend its aid to an immoral or illegal act, and that a party will not be allowed to benefit from its own wrong doing. It is against public policy for governor to scheme and contrive to stay in office indefinitely. If this appeal fails, that exactly will be the state of the law'.
'It is my humble view that the appeal should succeed.'
'Section 180(2) of the Constitution does not envisage a situation in which a person can physically occupy the position of Governor for more than 4 years in a single tenure.'
'The relevant period of the computation of the tenure of the 4th Respondent is May 29, 2007 when he took the first oath of allegiance and oath of office and not the second oath of allegiance and oath of office in 2008.
At the resumed hearing of the appeal yesterday, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Dahiru Musdapher granted leave to Governor Timipre Sylva who is challenging INEC locus. But added that, 'the issue here is whether the tenure of the five governors expire on May 29th, 2011 or not.'
Justice Musdapher noted that the important question on the five governor's tenure must be resolved and appealed to the legal luminaries to come back today and address the court.
He said it is not necessary for the parties to respond, as oral submissions would suffice.
It would be recalled that the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division had in April few days to the general election upheld the decision of the Federal High Court that the Governorship election should not be held in Kogi, Adamawa, Bayelsa, Cross River and Sokoto States.
The Court of Appeal had consolidated all the five appeals brought by INEC and other interested parties including Brigadier General Marwa who had won CPC nomination for governorship candidate in Adamawa State.
INEC counsel Abubakar Mahmud SAN had insisted at the Court of Appeal that the decision of the Federal High Court should be set aside because it was in error. He said that the four-year tenures of the governors started to run when they first took their oath of offices in May 2007.
Mahmud SAN further submitted that the governors were now caught by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2010 as amended. He said the governors were exercising delegated powers of the electorates which were for a specific period of four years.
Mahmud submissions were, then vehemently opposed by Chief Ladi Williams, S.I Ameh SAN, J. Akubo SAN, Kanu Agabi SAN, Paul Erukoro SAN and Chief Olusola Oke who represented Governors Sylva, Wammako, Idris Imoke, Imoke and, PDP respectively.
Their contention had been that the governors who went through a fresh election after the nullification of their 2007 elections were not caught by the amended constitution which came into effect on July 16, 2010 therefore their tenures started to run from the day they took the second oath office