Lagos based lawyer, Festus Keyamo, has said the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, was right in directing the Chief Judge of Bayelsa State, Justice Kate Abiri, to administer the oath of office to the governor-elect of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike.
Mr. Adoke, in a statement on Tuesday, directed Justice Abiri, to administer the oath of office to Mr. Wike because of the vacuum in the office of the Chief Judge and the President of the Customary Court of Appeal in Rivers State due to the protracted controversy between the outgoing governor of the state, Rotimi Amaechi and the National Judicial Council over who should be appointed the state’s chief judge.
Making reference to Section 185(2) of the 1999 Constitution, Mr. Keyamo said Mr. Adoke was right on the side of law in giving the directive.
Section 185 (2) empowers the following persons to administer the oath of office and allegiance on a Governor-elect:
1. The Chief Judge of the State; 2. Grand Kadi of the Sharia Court of Appeal of the State; 3. President of the Customary Court of the State; 4. Anyone appointed to do so who also performs the functions of those officers in any state.
Mr. Keyamo said “A close look at Section 185(2) as analysed above will clearly show that whilst the drafters of the Constitution were very particular in using the phrase “the State” in reference to those officers who should administer the oaths, the last part of the section which allows other persons to perform the function (apart from those stated officers) uses the phrase “in any State”.
“In other words, in the absence of those stated officers to administer the oaths in “the State” in question, the corresponding officers “in any State” of the federation performing the same functions can also administer the oaths”.
Mr. Keyamo, who is a member of the All Progressives Congress, the party defeated in the gubernatorial election in Rivers State, said he supports the stand of the AGF without political prejudice. He added that the absence of a Chief Judge at a merely ceremonial event should not stop the declared winner of an election from assuming office.
“In any event, putting politics and sentiments aside, it is inconceivable to think that the assumption of office of a public officer who has been declared winner of an election can be scuttled merely because of the absence of someone who should perform a purely ceremonial duty, when the absence of such a person is no fault of the public officer,” he said.
He added that a dangerous precedence might be created that might lead to the kidnap of Chief Judges, Grand Kadis and other people designated to administer the oath of office if Mr. Wike is not sworn in as a result of the vacuum in River State.
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