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Nigerian Supreme Court Voids Governor's Removal


The supreme court in Nigeria has declared the removal of the governor of southwestern Oyo state illegal and unconstitutional. Gilbert da Costa reports for VOA that this is seen as setback for President Olusegun Obasanjo who is believed to have instigated the removal of so-called corrupt governors.

There were wild scenes of jubilation among supporters of Rashed Ladoja following the ruling at the Supreme Court in Abuja .

Ladoja was impeached last January over allegations of corruption and abuse of office. But the process leading to his removal was flawed and provoked criticisms, especially from some of Nigeria's leading lawyers.

The national secretary of the Nigeria Bar Association, Lawal Rabana, says the ruling represents a huge victory for democracy in Nigeria.

"We feel very delighted that it is a triumph for the rule of law and democracy in this country," he said. "It is a message to the various state legislative houses that in the exercise of their powers to remove governors through impeachment proceedings, they must comply with letter of the constitution. And we also feel that with this landmark judgment, it will bring sanity into the system and put a stop to the shameless abuse of power by the legislative houses in removing governors."

The implication of the ruling is that four other state governors removed in recent impeachments could regain their post in pending litigations.

Two of the governors, those of Ekiti and Plateau, who were accused of corruption and impeached by their state parliament are on the run, evading arrest and prosecution.

Analysts say the impeachments aimed to strengthen President Obasanjo's position ahead of crucial elections next year. But with the possible return of some of the governor's, Mr. Obasanjo's attempt to shore up gains for his ruling party may have hit a roadblock, they say.

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