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Nigeria head declares emergency after governor's 'unconstitutional' impeachment

[JURIST] Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo [official website; BBC profile] Thursday declared a state of emergency in the Nigerian state of Ekiti [government website] after Governor Ayodele Fayose was impeached by state lawmakers earlier this week following his conviction for corruption charges. Obasanjo called Fayose's removal unconstitutional because lawmakers replaced the chief judge who had been presiding over Fayose's corruption trial. After confusion began over who would assume the acting governor role, Obasanjo suspended Fayose, who is in hiding, as well as the state assembly and appointed a retired major-general to handle Ekiti's affairs for the next six months, saying the move was necessary to avoid a breach of order and safety.

The political climate in Nigeria [JURIST news archive] has been uncertain in recent months as states have increasingly been accusing their governors of corruption [JURIST report] and attempting impeachment proceedings. The allegations have been seen as a political strategy to gain power in anticipation of the elections scheduled for next April. Obasanjo and Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar [official profile] have even been trading allegations, and critics believe the president is planning to delay the elections to remain in office for a third term. A proposal [bill text, PDF] to revise the Nigerian Constitution [text] to allow Obasanjo to stay in power past his second term of office was defeated [JURIST report] by the Nigerian Senate [official website] earlier this year. Reuters has more.

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