TWO of the three eminent lawyers invited by the Supreme Court as advisors on its hearing in determining the tenure of the five governors, Chief Richard Akinjide (SAN) and Professor Itse Sagay (SAN), have reacted to the apex court’s judgment, describing it as a landmark.
Akinjide commended the judgment, which he said had further illuminated the country’s democratic path, adding that it was binding on all and must be complied with by everybody concerned.
Sagay said it was a privilege to have been invited to offer legal advice to the court panel and also gratifying that his advice and some others, who shared his view, formed the bedrock on which the judgment was reached.
Saluting the courage of the Justices, Sagay said it was remarkable that they based their decision on the provisions of the constitution, as canvassed by them, which made it very clear that no elected governor would spend more than four years for one term.
He debunked opinions in some quarters that the decision was politically motivated and actually meant to seal the political hope of embattled Bayelsa State Governor Timipre Sylva.
He said though it would be regrettable that the judgment may have cut short the bid of an individual, but counseled that the judgment should not be interrupted in that form.
His words: “I don’t think the law should be interested in individual cases. It may be unfortunate if individual fate is cut off, but that is not what the judgment is about.
“The judgment is a broad interpretation of the constitution, and so it would apply to everybody. It favours some, it would work against some, but it is a broad institution interpretation based on the best principle justice and the highest morality.”
The constitutional lawyer noted that the judgment would help promote good governance being clamoured for by most Nigerians.
“It promotes good governance to the extent that you cannot benefit from cheating, from committing fraud, from rigging election. That has been ruled out permanently.”
On the case of Kogi State, where a successor had already been elected to take over from Idris, the legal icon stated that the ‘governor in-waiting’ should be sworn in to replace Idris, instead of the Speaker, as is the case in the other four states.
“The Kogi State man had already won his election before the judgment and therefore he should have been sworn in.
“Of course, subject to challenges at the election petition tribunal about the validity of his election.”