A minority group of federal lawmakers caused a stir on July 27th, 2022, when they threatened to impeach President Buhari for being incompetent.
The seriousness of the threat is, among other things, betrayed by the fact that no Nigerian president has ever been impeached. But that spotless record isn’t the same when it comes to state governors in Nigeria.
The Nigerian impeachment process isn’t set up to be easy to pull off. Even a bribe-taker caught on tape can escape it.
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To be impeached from office can mean a lot of things — you’re the worst of the worst, there’s a powerful political godfather who hates your guts or you don’t possess enough political clout to ensure that kind of disgrace never reaches your door. Or all of the above.
Here are the governors who belong to the exclusive club of impeached executives in Nigeria’s democratic history:
Don’t let the tears fool you
Joshua Dariye’s run as Plateau State governor, and as a politician, has been nothing short of dramatic. He won his first election as governor in 1999, and again in 2003, which is when things start to get interesting.
President Obasanjo accused the governor of failing to manage a religious crisis that caused bloodshed in the state, declared a state of emergency and suspended Dariye in May 2004.
While on suspension, British police officers arrested the governor in a London hotel in September 2004. They charged him with money laundering but released him on bail and he simply never returned.
He fled back to Nigeria just in time to resume office when the state of emergency expired in November 2004. But this isn’t how Dariye’s story ends.
Plateau State lawmakers impeached Dariye in November 2006 on suspicion of corruption. He disappeared into hiding, from where he fought his impeachment which was invalidly carried out by only six of the state’s 24 lawmakers.
He won the case and returned to the Government House again in April 2007, just one month to the end of his second term. But this isn’t the end of Dariye’s story.
Immediately after he lost his immunity as governor, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) started prosecuting him for stealing over ₦1 billion from the state’s treasury. Despite his criminal case, he went on to win senatorial elections in 2011 and 2015. But his luck finally ran out in 2018 and an FCT High Court sentenced him to 14 years in prison. That’s still not the end of Dariye’s story.
Dariye appealed his sentence, and the Supreme Court reduced it to 10 years. And because Dariye never gives up, President Buhari granted him a presidential pardon in April 2022. He’s currently awaiting release.
Like Dariye, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha was also serving his second term as Bayelsa State governor when police officers arrested him in London for money laundering in September 2005.
The police found more than £1 million in cash in his London home but still granted him bail. This decision turned out to be a mistake.
Like Dariye, Alamieyeseigha jumped bail and ran back to Nigeria, reportedly disguising himself as a woman.
But unlike Dariye, he returned home to impeachment breakfast and was immediately arrested for corruption. He later pleaded guilty to six charges of corruption and was jailed for two years on each count. Goodluck Jonathan, his deputy governor who went on to become president, controversially granted him a presidential pardon in 2013.
He died of cardiac arrest two years later.
ALSO READ: How To Impeach An Incompetent President
“I am the drama!”
Ayo Fayose is remarkable for being the first governor in Ekiti State to serve two terms, but he didn’t complete his first one because he was dragged out of his chair through impeachment.
Fayose won his first election in 2003, but Ekiti lawmakers removed him from office in October 2006 over corruption allegations. They accused him of diverting state funds to do la vida loca for himself and his family.
His deputy, Biodun Olujimi, was also impeached, so the lawmakers swore in the House Speaker, Friday Aderemi, as acting governor instead. This caused a constitutional crisis and forced President Obasanjo to declare a state of emergency, swearing in Tunji Olurin as Ekiti’s sole administrator.
Fayose fled Nigeria while the impeachment process concluded and didn’t return until the heat on him died down. He contested for the governor’s seat again in 2014 and won.
In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that the lawmakers didn’t impeach Fayose in a valid process. The governor briefly flirted with the idea of asking the court to let him contest a third time because of the illegal impeachment, but it never materialised.
Peter Obi is the first Nigerian governor to win his mandate through the courts. INEC declared Chris Ngige the winner of the 2003 Anambra State governorship election but Obi contested it in court.
When he won three years later, he took office in March 2006. But lawmakers impeached him seven months later for alleged misappropriation of funds and booted him out of office. But he didn’t stay down.
Obi ran back to the courts and won yet again for a triumphant return to office in February 2007. But when Andy Uba won the 2007 governorship election, Obi had to vacate once again in May 2007.
He went to the courts, again, to argue that he’s entitled to four years as governor starting from 2006 when he assumed office.
This is probably how he addressed the courts every time he returned there
The Supreme Court agreed with him, again, and he returned to office in June 2007 where he remained till 2014 when his second term expired.
Rasheed Ladoja won the 2003 Oyo State governorship election on the back of support from the influential Lamidi Adedibu. When the two fell out later, lawmakers impeached the governor in January 2006.
He challenged the impeachment and won at both the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. This allowed him to return to the governor’s seat in December 2006, but he failed to win his party’s ticket for a second term. Attempts to contest for a second term in 2011 and 2015 also met brick walls.
Ladoja faced the customary probe from the EFCC, but he beat his ₦4.7 billion fraud case and the court acquitted him after 11 years of trial in 2019.
Murtala Nyako’s two terms as governor of Nasarawa State governor isn’t any less dramatic than any of the other governors on this list.
He won his first election in 2007, but the Election Petition Appeal Tribunal annulled his victory in 2008 due to electoral malpractices.
Nyako won the election again and returned to office two months later. But the state’s House of Assembly made impeachment moves against him. He survived the plot and even won a re-election in 2012. But he was back on the chopping block two years later.
Dread it, run from it, impeachment arrives all the same
The House of Assembly accused the governor of mismanagement, investigated him, found him guilty of gross misconduct and impeached him in July 2014.
The Supreme Court later overturned the impeachment in 2016, but didn’t reinstate him to office.
The lesson to learn here is if it’s not dramatic and/or very likely illegal, then it’s not a Nigerian impeachment.