ABUJA - Lawmakers in a central Nigerian state are vowing to impeach their governor, days after legislators in another state impeached their chief executive. The lawmakers say they are rooting out corruption, but some Nigerians believe the moves have much more to do with politics before next year's presidential election.
On Monday, lawmakers in Adamawa State impeached Governor Murtala Nyako, accusing him of stealing tens of millions of dollars, some of it directly from the salaries of civil servants.
On Wednesday, the Nassarawa State Assembly renewed its vow to begin impeachment proceedings against Governor Tanko Al-Makura, accusing him of stealing millions of dollars.
A spokesperson for Nyako told local newspapers the former governor plans to challenge his impeachment in court. And in a new twist, his deputy said Nyako is still the deputy governor since he never submitted his resignation letter to the governor in person as required by law.
Nigerian political consultant Onakpoma Ovie said state-level corruption across the country leaves ordinary people impoverished, while governors become some of the country’s most wealthy elite.
“They are corrupt. They embezzle the money of the state here and there," said Ovie. "You cannot even see new employment. You cannot see anything going on in the state. So what are they doing with this money?”
Watchdog group Transparency International ranks Nigeria as the 33rd most corrupt country, but many Nigerians suspect these impeachments have nothing to do with protecting public coffers.
In Nigeria, state governors are considered kingmakers, with the power to sway presidential election votes in their state. Both Nyako and Al-Makura are members of the opposition All Progressive Congress and were ousted by state assemblies led by the ruling People’s Democratic Party.
With presidential campaigns scheduled to begin in November, the opposition says the ruling party is ousting governors in an effort to fix the race.
At his home in the Niger Delta, oil contractor Adheke Oke is outraged at the timing, saying Adamawa's impeached governor was a member of the ruling party when he allegedly committed the crimes.
“It is clear that it is politically motivated. Let us be honest. I saw some of these allegations. He did them when he was in the good books of the ruling party,” said Oke.
More than half of Nigeria’s state governors belong to the ruling party, which has been in power since Nigeria transitioned to democracy in 1999.
Opposition parties merged to form the All Progressive Congress last year to challenge President Goodluck Jonathan’s anticipated bid for re-election in 2015.
Hilary Uguru contributed to this report from the Niger Delta. Leo Keyen from VOA's Hausa service contributed to this report .