LEGAL IDEAS FORUM

OPINION BY ERIKIGWE-NIGERIA JUDICIARY: MATTERS ARISING

Anchor: With the widespread of corona virus scare, would you say that the order given by the CJN on shutting down the courts is a good initiative given the fact that many crimes and cases are piled up for hearing

Erikigwe G. I: With the pandemic covid 19 which has troubled the entire world, the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in order to safeguard the life of its citizens has ordered that all public places should be closed court inclusive, on this measure, the action of the government is justifiable by the doctrine of necessity which presupposes that when the life of people is in danger, the safety of the people is the Supreme law, the doctrine of necessity is supported by a Latin maxim sollus populi ex suprema lex  which means when translated into English language the safety of the people is the Supreme law
Though some persons said that the  order infringed on their fundamental human right  as stipulated in Chapter 4 of 1999 CFRN. A reference will be made on Section 45(1) of 1999 CFRN which stipulated that: Nothing in sections 37, 38, 39, 40, 41 of this Constitution shall invalidate any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society. In the Section 45(1 )(a) of 1999 CFRN it States the reason for the derogation thus; in the interest of defence, public Safety, public order, public morality or public health
However, many cases and crimes are pilled up for hearing, it also important to point out that  in Section 14(2)(b) of 1999 CFRN States that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government. The CJN shutting down the courts is a good initiative.
 
Anchor: Would you say objectively that the Judiciary as the third arm of government is living up to its responsibilities giving to recent events in the country.
Erikigwe G.I: Judiciary as the third arm of d government is relatively trying in upholding to the faith reposed on them as the custodian of the law. Section 6(1) of 1999 CFRN states thus; the judicial powers of the federation shall be vested in the courts to which this section relates, being court established for the federation. Caveat to say, but it is regrettably mischievous that this sacred arm has been polluted by political jaywalking and judicial jiggery puckery, it calls for sanitation in our judicial sector, these executive and legislative interference in our judicial system have impaired the constitutional role of judiciary and judging by the recent happenings in the country, one can say that judiciary is relatively upholding to their constitutional tenets.
Anchor: As is now the case, an election by INEC is no longer considered as a conclusive way to win a political office in Nigeria, the court has somewhat increased their role in determining this. What is your comment on the judgement of Imo State gubernatorial election.
Erikigwe G.I: The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was established by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to among other things organize elections into various political offices in the country.
The functions of INEC as contained in Section 15, Part 1 of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (As Amended) and Section 2 of the Electoral Act 2010 (As Amended) include the following:
1)Organise, undertake and supervise all elections to the offices of the President and Vice-President, the Governor and Deputy Governor of a State, and to the membership of the Senate, the House of Representatives and the House of Assembly of each state of the federation;
2)Register political parties  in accordance with the provisions of the constitution and Act of the National Assembly;
3)Monitor the organization and operation of the political parties, including their finances; conventions, congresses and party primaries.
4)Arrange for the annual examination and auditing of the funds and accounts of political parties, and publish a report on such examination and audit for public information;
5)Arrange and conduct the registration of persons qualified to vote and prepare, maintain and revise the register of voters for the purpose of any election under this constitution;
6)Monitor political campaigns and provide rules and regulations which shall govern the political parties;
7Conduct voter and civic education;
8)Promote knowledge of sound democratic election processes; and
Conduct any referendum required to be conducted pursuant to the provision of the 1999 Constitution or any other law or Act of the National Assembly.
However, the court dispensing justice can alter the declaration of the INEC  as it happened in the case of Hope Uzordimma v Emeka Ihedioha
It was a reminder to all about what Chukwudifu Oputa, Justice of the Supreme Court (as he then was) said when he quipped in Adegoke Motors v. Adesanya that “••• my simple answer is that it is not part of the jurisdiction or duties of this Court to go on looking for imaginary conflicts. We are final not because we are infallible; rather we are infallible because we are final. My simple opinion is that there suppose to be an end to litigation but when justice has been done it supposed not only to be seen to be done but manifestly and undoubtedly seen to been done. I am still looking forward to seeing how the court will distinguish the case in another similar case with similar facts.
It is no doubt that the INEC is not the sole determinant of who will win an election, this is premised in the recent happenings in Nigeria after the last poll, I can conclude that the reason is that the constitution vest so many powers in the hand of the executive President and Governor even the power to appoint court of appeal judges, mind you those judges presides over electoral matters and as the saying goes you can never outshine your master it becomes whoever the Governor or the President wants to emerge as the winner that will emerge hence he who pays the piper determines the tones, the constitution advocates for separation but there is no water tight separation of powers among the three arms of the Government in Nigeria, the court has doubled it’s function by assuming a position in determining the chances of winning an election through executive directives, technically it stands therefore that the neutrality of the judiciary is nothing but a mere phrase with no substantive value, in furtherance to this therefore the court has for the moment being a key factor in determining electoral success of an individual.
Anchor: A federal high court at Abuja gave judgement for the suspension of Oshimole as the APC chairman after which a Federal High court in Kano set the judgement aside, this should be a legal blunder, don’t you think so?
Erikigwe G.I: The Federal high court shares equal jurisdiction  amongst its different division. Consequently, the action of the federal high division sitting in kano which gave a contrary decision on the same issue which has been adjudicated by it’s sister court is a flagrant abuse of the powers of the court and a corruption of the stream of Justice. 
Conclusively, the court erred as it lacked jurisdiction to even  sit on that matter.
Anchor: Can you keep us abreast with any legal justification or argument for the recent removal of the emir of Kano and in the reverse any valid argument for the deposed emir?
Erikigwe G.I: By a letter dated March 9, 2020, and addressed to Emir of Kano, Muhammed Sanusi II, issued and signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Kano State, Usman Alhaji, the Emir of Kano, Muhammed Sanusi II (Sanusi Lamido Sanusi) was communicated that he had been deposed from the throne of Emir of Kano by the Kano State Government.
The letter stated that the Kano State Executive Council during its meeting on March 9, 2020, approved of and directed the immediate removal and dethronement of Emir Sanusi as the Emir of Kano, and also his relocation to Nasarawa State, an act which the letter claimed was done in line with the relevant provision of the Kano State Emirate Council Law of 2019. The letter further stated that the decision to depose the Emir was taken due to the Emir’s general disrespect to lawful instructions from the authorities, including ( the ) President, and refusal to attend official programmes and meetings organized by Government, acts which were viewed as an act of insubordination. The letter claimed that the decision to depose the Emir was reached to safeguard the sanctity, culture, tradition and prestige of the Kano Emirate which was established and sustained over “one thousand years ago”.
Following the delivery of the letter on the deposed Emir, he was “arrested”, “forcibly removed” by a horde of security agents, including (reportedly) the Kano State Commissioner of Police, and flown out of Kano into exile. Though the  Local government and Chieftain matters is under the State government but my concern is the negation of the Fundamental human right of Freedom From Discrimination as stipulated in Section 42 of 1999 CFRN Which provides that a Nigerian citizen shall not be discriminated against. See this case Obeya v Soluade (1970-72)NNLR 25., Mojekwu v Mojekwu (1997) 7 NWLR pt 512,p.283 CA. And that’s the reason why the court ex parte reversed the banishment.
The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is the organic law of the land, the grund norm, upon which every other laws derive their validity from, see section 1 sub section 1 paragraph A, of the 1999 constitution, CFRN. on the current event which has troubled the minds of many average Nigerians, on the action of his excellency, the executive Governor of Kano State wherein his excellency on the exercise of his executive power, removed the siting emir of Kano Sanusi lamido Sanusi. Opinions are divided, tensions are high on such drastic actions by his excellency. Well, as a judicial personnel, I have maintained my position by being neutral to the two parties but assuming but not contending that the matter was brought before the court of which I sit as the presiding judge, bellow will be my judgement : I will grace the action of his excellency to some relevant statutory and case law provisions that are in parli material to such pertinent issue before the honourable court. section 158 sub section 1 of code of conduct bureau, section 292 sub section 1 paragraph A-i of code of conduct bureau paragraph 20 and 21 of part 1 of the third schedule 1999 Constituon of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. section 291 & 292 CFRN in addition to National Judicial Committee (NJC) policy 2016 and other relevant guidelines would form the crux of what has been highlighted as the case of the year. In all honesty, my opinion is, if found guilty, let the garvel fall He Sanusi Lamido Sanusi should go down for it. I will construe and relate the action of Mr. President with the case of Hon. Justice Ngajinwa v FRN where the court of Appeal, by the Authority of Justice A. Aguda (as he then was) meticulously and pedantically states: “because you are a lawyer, who is supposed to know better, I will give you the maximum punishment prescribed under this act”.  But the due process has to be followed, and the law obeyed. It is important for our democracy.
Anchor: Do you think that the popular parlance, that the Judiciary is the last hope of common man is still an effective statement considering recent events in the Judiciary?
Erikigwe G.I: Judiciary as the third arm of the government is relatively trying in upholding to the faith reposed on them as the custodian of the law. Section 6(1) of 1999 CFRN states thus; the judicial powers of the federation shall be vested in the courts to which this section relates, being court established for the federation. Judiciary are the chief priest in the temple of Justice. Justice must not only be seen to be done but manifestly and undoubtedly seen to have been done. Les injusta non est lex (unjust Law is no Law). Judiciary is being the last hope of the common man must manifestly and undoubtedly uphold justice. When it seems that apex court gave a judgement in error per incuriam like the recent case of Hope  Uzordimma V Emeka Ihedioha  and Senator Douye Diri V Lyon David pere worimin any of the parties can ask for review. Chukwudifu Oputa, Justice of the Supreme Court (as he then was) said when he quipped in Adegoke Motors v. Adesanya that “••• my simple answer is that it is not part of the jurisdiction or duties of this Court to go on looking for imaginary conflicts. We are final not because we are infallible; rather we are infallible because we are final. My simple opinion is that there suppose to be an end to litigation but when justice has been done it supposed not only to be seen to be done but manifestly and undoubtedly seen to been done. Hence, it does not limit the judiciary competence rather it made people to believe more on the judiciary. Caveat to say, but it is regrettably mischievous that this sacred arm has been polluted by political jaywalking and judicial jiggery puckery, it calls for sanitation in our judicial sector, these executive and legislative interference in our judicial system have impaired the constitutional role of judiciary and judging by the recent happenings in the country, one can say that judiciary is relatively upholding to their constitutional tenets.
About the speaker
Erikigwe G. I is a law student of the Faculty of Law, University of Nigeria. And a panelist at the LIFIN symposium.
For knowledge and Justice

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