Nigeria's president declared a state of emergency on Thursday in a troubled southwest state where he said the impeachment of the governor by the local legislature violated the constitution.
Legislators in Ekiti State voted to remove Governor Ayo Fayose on Monday after finding him guilty of siphoning state funds into personal bank accounts and receiving kickbacks.
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed a retired military general, Tunji Olurin, to administer the state and maintain security there for the next six months. He also suspended for six months the state legislature, along with Fayose, his deputy and Friday Aderemi, the former speaker of the local parliament who now claims to be state governor.
"I hereby declare a state of emergency in Ekiti State," Obasanjo said in a national broadcast.
The removal of Fayose was illegal because some steps in the impeachment process violated Nigeria's Constitution, Obasanjo said.
The state's chief judge had on Oct. 9 appointed an impeachment panel that legislators alleged was composed of the governor's loyalists. The lawmakers then removed the judge and appointed a new one, which set up the impeachment panel that found Fayose guilty of misconduct.
Under the constitution, state legislatures have the power to impeach governors, but only the National Judicial Council, the top federal judicial administrative body that headed by the country's chief justice, has the power to remove a state chief judge, and only then on the recommendation of a governor.
"It is a clear case of usurpation of power," Obasanjo said of the impeachment of Fayose.
"It is dangerous for our democracy to allow this violation," he said.
It was the third such firing of a ruling party governor this year to stem from a sweeping graft investigation in Nigeria.
Troops patrolled the streets of Ado Akiti, the state capital, on Wednesday and guarded key government buildings, residents said.
Meanwhile, rival governments on Wednesday set up in different neighborhoods.
Aderemi, the former speaker of the legislature, chose to set up his cabinet in one part of the city.
In another area, Fayose's deputy held a cabinet meeting, saying that she was not acting on behalf of the deposed governor but for herself.