Query: What is your observation in the judgement delivered in the care of the Federal Government Vs. Sen. Orji Uzor Kalu?
As a Legal Practitioner in Equity who has keen interest in Litigation, I would say that the Judgement although unfortunate, is a very correct decision which the Supreme Court will not always hesitate to take unless the needful is done. In order to further buttress my Assertion, it is pertinent to briefly highlight the fact of this Res. The criminal Trial of Sen. Orji Uzor kalu & ors was began before Justice Muhammad Idris while he was a judge of the Federal High Court. Promotion came, and the said judge got elevated to the Court of Appeal Bench. Orji Uzor kalu’s legal team relying on Section 396(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law wrote to the President of the Court of Appeal to allow him finish the pending ongoing trial. The President of the Court of Appeal also relying on this section granted a Fiat to the said Justice who was already a Judicial Officer of the Court of Appeal. He went ahead with this trial, found the accused person guilty and convicted him.
The ACJL which provides that “NOT WITHSTANDING THE PROVISION OF ANY OTHER LAW TO THE CONTRARY, a judge of the High court who has been elevated to the Court of Appeal shall have the dispensation to continue to sit as a High Court Judge provided that this subsection shall not prevent him from assuming duty as a Justice of Court of Appeal” is a very fantastic provision of the ACJL as it is intended to aim fast delivery of Justice Particularly with regards to the concept of “trial De Novo” . However, it is inconsistent with the Ground Norm of the Country i.e 1999 CFRN as amended( particularly section 253). And as such, SHALL to the extent of it’s inconsistency be null and void. This position is trite in Law! See A.G Abia State Vs. A.G Federation (2006). The implication of this inconsistency is that it further affects the jurisdiction of the court to conclude the trial and as such , the entire proceeding will be thrown into the legal dustbin. ISAAC OBIUWEBI V. CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA (2011) 7 NWLR PT 465 (SC).
It might also interest you that the Punch Newspaper on the 10th of May, 2020 came up with a story that there are currently 50 ungoing cases where section 396(7) of the ACJL has been applied.
The order of retrial by the Supreme Court might be faced many challenges such as Death of Witnesses or reluctance to re-testify, compromise of Documentary evidence, Memory loss and Waste of resources. This isn’t helping the fight against Corruption.
The National Assembly need to amend the Constitution if we really want to Apply this section so as to perfect this lacuna exposed by the Judgement. This is my candid opinion.
It is believed that the Governor and his Deputy are elected with a joint ticket, what happens when one of them defects to another party?
The simple answer is that the Said Person will continue to enjoy the Position. Unlike Section 68(g)& 109(g) of the 1999 CFRN which provides that when ever a member of the legislature (Federal or State) decamps/defect from the party that sponsor his or her election. He or she must vacate such seat. Section 182 &188 of the Grund Norm has not included defection as a ground for removal from office. In the absence of any Constitutional amendment or Judicial pronouncement on this Res, this remains the Law.
The Nigerian Legislature in their performing their duty as contained in Section 4 of the 1999 CFRN are bound to go through some legislative process such as First reading stage et all. This said Control of Infectious Diseases Bill which seeks to Amend the Quarantine Act is required to go through a legislative process called “Public Hearing” where Stakeholders holders contribution will be sought to make improvement to the bill before it is being debated by the Parliament. The Public Hearing stage is an integral part of legislative process and as such cannot be cancelled. However, I was privileged to have a copy of the remark delivered by the Speaker of the House of Representatives during the plenary session on Tuesday 5th May,2020 where he addressed this issue and agreed same as submitted above. This said public Hearing stage has been conducted.
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?
Firstly, I would like to state categorically that an Executive order cannot usurp the power of the Legislature and Judiciary. An executive order cannot contravene the Provision(s) of the 1999 CFRN. The executive order that empowers him to demolish the hotels is unconstitutional and undemocratic. The said Executive order solely appoints the Executive as the Complainant, Prosecutor and the Judge which is a clear unconstitutional act. Punishment cannot be administered without the Judiciary. For example, in Lagos, the state government had restricted the movement of people every last Saturday of the month for compulsory environmental sanitation through an “executive order”. But after a lawyer sued the government of the state, the environmental sanitation exercise has since been abandoned because it contravene the Fundamental human right of Movement as enshrined in chapter IV of the 1999 CFRN.
What will be the legal implications Ambazonia if it eventually becomes an independent nation?
Firstly, it should be noted the current Ambazo nia is a self declared country by the Separatist Leaders of the English Speaking Part of Cameroon. However, the United Nations Secretariat is working towards the Official creation of UNO State of Cameroon(Ambazonia as popularly called). Her creation’s implication on Nigeria is that 24 local government areas in Nigeria; Borno (five), Adamawa (12) and Taraba (seven) states will be ceded to the said Country.
What is the diplomatic implication of the destruction of the Nigerian embassy in Ghana?
It is important to state that from the report of the investigation into this incident, it was discovered that The Gov’t of Ghana wasn’t responsible for it and have pledged to “ensure that the demolished building is restored to its original state, as soon as possible.” However, had it been the Ghanaian Authority was responsible for it, The destruction would be seeb as a desecration of diplomatic convention. The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, which defines the framework of diplomatic engagements between nations, stipulates in Articles 22 and 30 that the premises of a country’s Mission and private residence of its diplomatic agents shall be inviolable as they are part of its sovereign territory.This would have lead to the official breakage of diplomatic ties between both countries.
YUSUF O. EMIOLA is a penultimate Law Undergraduate in Bayero University Kano and a Litigation Secretary at Jurimetrics Legal Consults (with offices in Kwara and Ogun State). He is currently the Program Officer of the Bayero University Kano Law Clinic. He is an advocate of SDG 16, active Access to Justice campaigner,(Pre trial detention) and ADR. He can be reached via Gmail address: [email protected]
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