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While the debate on the interpretation of the Supreme Court judgment on
tenure elongation that sacked five State Governors rages on, Nigerians
awaits a dissection of the ruling by Justices of the Apex Court. But this did
not come with a dance and a show of shame as Kogi was turned into “big
trouble in little China”, Courtesy of the purported intervention by the vice
president, Arch. Namadi Sambo.
The purported order of the Vice President to security agencies that Capt.
Idris Wada be ‘installed’ as the Governor Kogi State was done with military
precision and fiat! It would be recalled that immediately after the ruling by the
Supreme Court, the Attorney General of the Federation in his capacity as the
government’s principal legal adviser instructed the Chief Judge of Kogi State
to swear in the Speaker of the House of Assembly as the Acting State
Governor until an election is conducted in accordance with directive of the
In democratic setting, the role of the judiciary within the electoral process is
widely recognized as significant in the consideration of electoral contests or
petitions. Regrettably, the situation in Kogi State was different and a taint on
the independence of the Judiciary in the state and by extension Nigeria. Mr.
Vice President aided the imposition of Capt. Idris Wada as governor in
defiance to the Supreme Court order with the deployment of over two hundred
government forces in and around the Kogi State Government House with the
active connivance of the Inspector General of Police.
Today, this undemocratic action has not only compounded the climate of fear
in Kogi State but diminished the right of every eligible voter in Kogi state to
determine who will be their Governor. The expectation that people in
leadership should abide by judicial decisions which is fundamental to the
maintenance of the rule of law was abused by the vice president. One would
have thought given his sensitive position as number two man in the Executive
arm of Government, he should have respected the doctrine of separation of
powers which denotes the practice of dividing the powers of a government
among different branches thereof.
The rule of law requires that all branches of the Nigerian State, including the
Executive, strictly abide by the judgments and decisions of the Judiciary,
even when they do not agree with them. The Vice President by interfering
with the Supreme Court orders on Kogi State has thus put in jeopardy the
rule of law in Nigeria because his actions on Kogi State constitutes serious
infringements of the independence of the Judiciary.
It is also very disturbing that even with the avalanche of challenges
confronting Nigerians and Nigeria as a nation, the vice president discovered
new wisdom in solving Nigeria’s problems by usurping the functions of the
Judiciary. This attempt is highly unacceptable because no arm of government
should be regarded a stumbling block in the execution of the provisions in the
Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It is therefore very unfortunate that the vice president forgot that on
assumption of office, he swore to an oath to uphold the constitution of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria. And if he must be reminded, that oath includes
upholding judicial independence as guaranteed in the Nigerian Constitution
and in all democratic constitutions especially to protect the Nigerian people
from abuse of power by the Government and top politicians like him.
Many sectors of society are believed to have interpreted the action of the vice
president as a contravention of the constitution on separations of powers.
Needless I also mention that such could warrant an impeachment from office
because there is no doubt that he deliberately acted ultra vires; his action in
Kogi State is so much outside his authority or jurisdiction.
The events that led to the forceful exit of the already sworn in legitimate
Acting Governor must be thoroughly investigated by members of the National
Assembly and President Jonathan. This sad attack on the Judiciary by the
vice president has caused "grave concern" from many quarters and has gone
too far and that unless there is a reversal, the judicial institutions will be
irreparably damaged with adverse effects on Kogi State’s democracy.
The Vice President ought to apologize and publicly disassociate himself from
that ignominious role of the PDP leadership in Kogi State. The maintenance
of the Rule of Law is very important for the sustenance of any democracy and
the Attorney General as the chief legal adviser of the government should not
hesitate to advise the government on the constitutionality or otherwise of the
various actions of the vice president. Furthermore, the entangling influences
and selfish interest on Kogi state governorship must be stopped for the
growth of Nigeria’s democracy and stability of the Judiciary.
PHRANK SHAIBU, A Public Communications Consultant, wrote from Abuja
Mr. Vice President and the Naked dance in Kogi State
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By: Phrank Shaibu
Tuesday, February 14, 2012