In a move that may douse tension and controversies over the fate of the Rivers State governor-elect, Nyesom Wike, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister Of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, on Tuesday said Nyesom Wike’s swearing-in would be performed by the Bayelsa State Chief Judge.
The involvement of the Attorney General in the affairs of Rivers state is prompted by the vacancy in the office of the Chief Judge of the State. President of the Customary Court of Appeal is also vacant.
Section 185, sub section 1 and 2 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria had provided that the Chief Judge of the State or the President of the Customary Court of Appeal will be responsible to swearing-in a governor.
The Constitution however provided that in the absence of the above, any other functioning in their place or as may be appointed, should carry out the constitutional duty.
A statement issued by the minister said his decision became necessary in order to avert a likely constitutional crisis in Rivers State on May 29 when the Governor-Elect, is expected to be sworn as Governor of Rivers State.
The statement reads in part, “The general public particularly the Government and People of Rivers State are hereby invited to take note of this development and appreciate the fact that the invitation extended to the Chief Judge of Bayelsa State to administer the Oath of Allegiance and Oath of Office on the Governor-Elect of Rivers State on 29th of May 2015 is in accordance with the Constitution and should therefore be respected by all and sundry.”
The last may not have been heard on the controversies generated by the issue. Questions that may emerge is, Does the Attorney General of the Federation have any constitutional powers to make such appointment realising that each state is independent and a unit in the federation?