How Courts Changed Nigeria’s Electoral Map

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Various verdicts from the Election Petition Tribunals and the Court of Appeal have automatically introduced staggered system into the gubernatorial elections in the country.

As at today, gubernatorial elections may never hold again at the same time in the 36 states of the federation. This is because nine states where courts have nullified results of the April 24, 2007 election will have to hold governorship elections in different years other than 2011 when the next general election is scheduled to hold.
The affected states are Anambra, Rivers, Cross Rivers, Kogi, Edo, Adamawa, Sokoto, Bayelsa and Ondo. In the nine states, as a result of the nullification of election results by the courts and the declaration of new winners or the holding of fresh elections, governorship polls will hold in Nigeria every year between 2010 and 2013.

The staggered elections resulted principally from the Supreme Court decision in the case filed by incumbent Anambra State Governor, Mr. Peter Obi in which the apex court ruled that a governor’s tenure will expire exactly four years from the day he is sworn-in.
Obi who was sworn-in in March 2006, almost three years after the 2003 elections which the Appeal Court eventually ruled that he won, had gone to court to challenge the 2007 election held by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in which Obi was elected winner of the Anambra State governorship seat.
Obi contended that the 2007 election should be a nullity since his tenure of office had not expired, having been sworn in a year earlier. The Supreme Court eventually ruled in favour of Obi as it stated that the 2003 election ought not to have held. The court stated that the four-year tenure of the governor begins only after he was sworn-in. The court also chided INEC for going ahead to conduct another governorship poll in the state when the issue of obi’s tenure was still subjudiced.

With the decision of the apex court in Obi’s case now becoming the law, governors who were sworn-in after months of litigations and those whose elections were nullified and had to go for fresh election to secure new mandate will not conclude their tenure at the same time as their colleagues whose mandate from the 2007 poll remain un-impeached.
In the category of those who commenced tenure after the Appeal Court upturned the 2007 election are Obi (Anambra), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Adams Oshiomhole (Edo) and Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo).

Obi was sworn-in in March 2006 and will go for fresh election in 2010. Amaechi was sworn-in in October, 2007 and will go for fresh election in 2011, but not in April as the rest of the governors who will have to renew their mandate during the general elections in April 2011. Oshiomhole was sworn-in in November 2008 and another governorship election will hold in the state in 2012. Mimiko was sworn-in last month and so, Ondo state will witness another governorship election in 2013.
The second category of governors in whose states elections will not hold in April 2011, had their victory in the 2007 elections nullified and they were therefore compelled to go for fresh election in which they emerged winners. Those in this category are Ibrahim Idris (Kogi), who was sworn-in again in April 2008; the next governorship election in the state will be in April 2012. Also, Murtala Nyako (Adamawa) whose fresh mandate began in May 2008 will face next governorship election in 2012 as well.

Nyako’s colleagues in Bayelsa and Sokoto States, Timpre Sylva and Magatakarda Wammako will also go for fresh election about the same time. In Cross River, Governor Liyel Imoke had to win a court-ordered fresh election to secure a new mandate in August 2008; the state will witness another gubernatorial election in 2012.
Section 178 (2) of the 1999 constitution states that “an election to the office of Governor of a state shall be held on a date not earlier than 60 days and not later than 30 days before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder of that office”.

Gov    Yr Elected Next  Election
 Anambra Peter Obi  Mar. 2006  2010
 Rivers   Rotimi Amaechi  Oct. 2007 2011
 Kogi   Ibrahim Idris  Apr. 2008 2012
 Adamawa  Murtala Nyako  May 2008 2012
 Sokoto  Aliyu Wamako  May 2008 2012
 Bayelsa      Timipre Sylva  May 2008 2012
 C/Rivers  Liyel Imoke  Aug. 2008 2012
 Edo   A.Oshiomhole   Nov. 2008 2012
 Ondo   ‘Segun Mimiko    Feb. 2009 201


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