Chukwu Abel Okwudiri-Nigerian Judiciary:Matters Arising.



Query: What is your observation in the judgement delivered in the case of the Federal Government against Sen Orji Uzor Kalu?
Chukwu Abel: There must be an end to every litigation and one or the other judgement must be passed and it either favours one or not. The court had delivered her judgement and it turned out the way it is for orji . He has post trial rights he should exercise it.
In ONAH v. FRN (2017) LPELR-43535(CA), the court established that: While the sentence of the court must be in accordance with that prescribed by the statute creating the offence, a court cannot impose a higher punishment than that prescribed for the offence.
Query: Governor Wike somewhat has been wielding an unprecedented power since the control of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, such acts as demolition of a hotel and detention of pilots. Do you think such powers are reserved for governors?
Chukwu Abel: Wike’s act was an Executive Order and it is nothing but a mere subsidiary legislation. Even though a subsidiary legislation has the force of law, it cannot override the provisions of its enabling law. The enabling law to Governor Nyesom Wike’s Executive Order is the Quarantine Act, the Executive Order can therefore not impose a penalty outside of and higher than what the Quarantine Act prescribes.
It is therefore wickedness to deprive people of their means of livelihood, launch an attack on their fundamental human rights and cause them eternal agony by hiding under the cover of curtailing the spread of disease.
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has acted ultra-vice, he should therefore stop the illegality and award adequate compensation to all those whose properties have been confiscated and and destroyed.
Query: There were uproars on social media’s when the Legislature wanted to pass the NCDC act neglecting the procedures provided for such, do you think that an emergency situation gives them the right to do so?
Chukwu Abel: I say that the law is the law and anything short of it should be frowned at. The legislative house is not a kangaroo’s meeting and thus, the law put in place for making and pass bills should stringently adhered to. On no account of emergency should the rights of the citizen be meddled with. Our rights are like our Isaac and the mass are not ready to sacrifice their only Isaac
Query: Do you think that China is liable to the world, or most importantly Nigeria for the damages caused by their ineptitude in the control of Corona virus which is believed to have started in China?
Chukwu Abel: Responding to the question of whether China can be sued over the consequences of COVID-19 I will say it all depends on each countries’ approach to sovereign immunity of a foreign state.
For instance, In the United States, foreign countries have sovereign immunity and cannot be brought to court unless the state is conducting commercial activities, On this basis therefore I apt to say that China will avoid jurisdiction because it is a sovereign country unless it agrees to be bound by the decision.
It is worthy of note that China violated its legal duties under the International Health Regulations to convey accurately the extent of the virus inside China. China intentionally hid information, thereby endangering the world.
Therefore, each state Nigeria inclusive may opt to impose lawful measures against China by suspending ordinary legal obligations to induce China to fulfill reparations. It won’t be news if China will refuse the allegations and claim that the virus emerged naturally. Even if international courts order penalties due to COVID-19, China, which is a communist country, will not respect the rule of law. In my opinion, I doubt if any country could sue China for the pandemic. I believe it is a political, and not a legal, event.
Countries might punish China by restricting trade ties, imposing sanctions, naming and shaming, passing a resolution in the UN, restricting travel to and from China, downgrading ties, or by other symbolic gestures.
Query:What will be the legal implications Ambazonia if it eventually becomes an independent nation?
Chukwu Abel: Before I descend into the arena of concern, let us go on a brief voyage into history. The fight for independence of the Ambazonia has been with us even before 1961. There was a plebiscite for the Southern Cameroon; a then British colony; known as the Amabzonia to join either Nigeria or the French Cameroon, but the majority of them wanted self-independence.
As at then, the UN thought the now Southern Cameroon we not having economic strength to survive as a nation, and as such, the option for Independence was denied to them, so Southern Cameroonians voted to associate with French Cameroon in a federation of two states, equal in status.
Having known this, I opine that the actualization of the independence of the ‘Ambazonia’ as a pipe dream and a near impossible thing, whirls the speculation that Nigeria might loss certain territories (24 LGA or so) as an illusion that would never be possible. Do you think the Cameroonian government would let Ambazonia secede ?
Owing to the fact that a lots of wealth and mineral potentials are embedded in that region. The Cameroonian government would not let that happen ,just like the way the Nigerian government won’t let Biafra be a reality; also just like the Spanish government won’t let the Calatáns secede from Spain.
Nevertheless, my focal point is to clarify and state the legal implication if Ambazonia become an independent nation. The Ambazonia cross certain local governments in Nigeria and Nigeria is a sovereign State and from it constitution, it is independent from the undue interference of any other state or body ,unless and only if Nigeria signs a treaty with any State or international body that they belong to, and that treaty must be in conformity with the constitution of Federal Republic Of Nigeria.
The constitution provides in Section 12(1) that “No treaty between the Federation and any other country shall have the force of law to the extent to which any such treaty has been enacted into law by the National Assembly”… And to the best of my knowledge, there is no existence of any treaty between the parties rumoured to be involved in the rumoured subject matter.
For those who think the ‘UN’ as a body has more power than Nigeria in any matter like this, he’s under a false and mistaken belief. Any Treaty that the UN will sign in a matter that concerns Nigeria and it territory, and it is not in conformity with the Nigerian Constitution shall lack the force of law.
And again, the territories fore gathered to what is known as the Federal Republic of Nigeria is defined and known to be a Nigerian shore without contemplation. How then would a new country/State be made by carving out some geographical parts of Nigeria without any consensual treaty?
The constitution clearly defines the Nigerian territory in Section 3 (1) which provides that “There shall be 36 states in Nigeria, that is to say, Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara.”
(2) Each state of Nigeria, named in the first column of Part I of the First Schedule to this Constitution, shall consist of the area shown opposite thereto in the second column of that Schedule.
(6) There shall be 768 Local Government Areas in Nigeria as shown in the second column of Part I of the First Schedule to this Constitution and six area councils as shown in Part II of that Schedule.
And section 2 of the same Constitution further provides that ;
(1) Nigeria is one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign state to be known by the name of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Furthermore, section 1 (2) provides that ,“The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall not be governed, nor shall any persons or group of persons take control of the Government of Nigeria or any part thereof, except in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution”.
Looking keenly into Statutory provision of the Constitution, I can audaciously state that, the independence of Ambazonia as a nation; most especially the inclusion of the territory of Nigeria is nothing but a propaganda.
Query: What is the diplomatic implication of the destruction of the Nigerian embassy in Ghana?
Chukwu Abel: The destruction of the Nigerian embassy in Ghana is an invasion of the territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in foreign jurisdictions. It is a serious breach of the Vienna Convention that sadly bears the capacity to cause a diplomatic row and escalate tension between Nigeria and Ghana.
Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs in Nigeria, Yusuf Buba Yakub has called for the arrest of individuals involved in what it describes as “illegal invasion of the diplomatic premises” of the Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana. This follows the demolition of an uncompleted building on a property of the Nigerian High Commissioner by armed men in Accra June 19.
According to the head of security at the High Commission Emmanuel Kabutey, the leader of the team that came to demolish the building told them they had the backing of National Security and that “if any of us try, he will clear us off.”
In a press release signed by MHR Chairman Yakub, the committee explained that they “condemn in totality that act of trespass committed against the Nigeria Mission premises in Accra. We view it for what it as an invasion of the territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in foreign jurisdictions.” the callousness of the action against Nigerian premises in Ghana, was classical case of external aggression against the Federal Republic of Nigeria and a gross violation of all known Conventions and Treaties on Diplomatic Relations and Friendship between two countries.
In my opinon, there should a clarion call on international communities to see to it that the perpetrators of the act did not go unpunished.
Query: It’s believed that a governor and his deputy are elected with a joint ticket, what happens when one of them defects to another party?
Chukwu Abel: The Constitution provides that the governor and his deputy shall come from the same political party, the question of whether or not the deputy defects to another party it is a thing to be decided by the court. However, in my opinion, the action against the defection of a deputy has no constitutional backing because the constitution did not provide that the governor and the deputy must remain in the same party. The case of Obasanjo v Atiku will Clear the air.
Abel Chukwu is a graduate of College for Legal Studies Yola, Adamawa State where he bagged his Diploma in Law, and in his currently in 300 level at Taraba State university running his LLB programme. He is a humanitarian and lover of children; a writer, a poet, a composer, a teacher, and a social and political analyst. He has to his credit a published book titled “my class book of nursery rhymes” and other unpublished poems and stories.
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