Two weeks ago, we started this intriguing issue, as to whether the Senate can legally summon the IGP to appear before it. So far, we have been able to show and still showing that the IGP can be summoned to answer some pertinent questions about the state of the country. Today, we shall continue the Senate vs IGP summons debacle and conclude same next week in the last and final part 4 of the serialisation. Thereafter, we shall also conclude with the Part 3 of the President cannot approve $1billion insurgency fund without National Assembly approval.
The jam here and the danger to democracy is that the IGP, being the overall boss of the Police, no Police officer will dare to arrest and bring to the Senate or House. He is the “Oga patapata” (overall boss). The institution of the NASS Assembly (one of the three arms of government), is thus ridiculed, spited and rendered prostrate. Democracy becomes the ultimate loser. The penalty for non attendance by a witness is N50, or imprisonment for 3 months, or to both fine and imprisonment. Protagonists of Heads of MDAs’ crass disrespect of constituted authority, such as done two years ago by Col Hameed Ali (Rtd),the Controller General (CG), of the Nigerian Customs, who had refused to attend Senate in the official uniform of a CG when he is not a Sole Administrator (notwithstanding that his superior, Major General Haladu Hannaniya had happily and gleefully donned his official uniform as FRSC Commander), is to cite out of context, some decisions of the Court of Appeal in Tony Momoh vs Senate of the NASS (1982) NCLR, 105 and Ma1lam EI Rufai vs House of Representatives (2003) 46 WRN 70.
Those cases never said the Senate cannot invite a Nigerian such as the IGP. In any event, the facts of those cases are miles apart and quite different and distinct from the facts leading to the invitation of the IGP in the present case. It is axiomatic that a case is authority for what it decides. See the cases of Udo vs State (2016) LPELR 40721 (SC) and Aizeboje vs EFCC (2017) LPELR 42894 (CA). In Tony Momoh’s case, the Senate had invited Prince Tony Momoh as Editor of Daily Times, to come and disclose the source of information contained in an article in the “Grape Vine” column of the newspaper. He went to court and argued that he could not be so compelled and that the invitation had nothing to do with the matters contained in section 82 (2) of the 1979 Constitution (the equivalent of section 88(2) of the 1999 Constitution) The court had no difficulty in upholding the claims.
In EI Rufai vs House of Representatives (supra), the Court of Appeal held among others as follows:-”However, if in obedience to the summons, the Appellant reported to the committee and the committee decided to take any step in excess of powers conferred upon it, or in the same process some of the fundamental right of the Appellant were actually violated or threats of such violation were imminent, then the Appellant would have every right to run to a Court of law for a relief. That is not the actual case in this matter. The Appellant, in my view, developed an anticipated fear of violation of his fundamental right. A Court of law acts on reality, i.e. what has actually taken place or is taking place at the time of complaint. Hardly has speculation any place in law. If there is allegation, then there must be proof to substantiate that allegation … I agree that the Lower Court was right in striking out Appellant’s suit.” It is instructive to note that the House went ahead to banned him from holding public office for 10 years. He engaged my services and I got the ban set aside through the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Some people have also wrongly, or perhaps, out of ignorance, mischief, deliberate misrepresentation, or all of the above, deliberately equate the blatant and flagrant action of the IGP to my securing an injunction in 2014, against the House of Representatives, in favour of my client, Diezani Allison- Maduekwe. Again, not only were the facts worlds apart from those here, she did not take the laws into her hands through flagrant ridiculing of the institution of the NASS, as done by the IGP here. She did what was expected of a responsible citizen by approaching the court through me, as the IGP had earlier himself done.
(To be continue and concluded next week).
The president cannot approve $1bn insurgency fund without National Assembly approval (3)
The spirit-purpose of the constitution (continues)
If a State claims to run a democratic government in a federal political arrangement, likened to the democracies of Western civilisation, it will be antithetical to known internationally recognised and accepted legislature-executive best practices, to affirm that in any democracy of the world, the parliament is relegated to the odious dustbin of governance activities in such a crucial and important activity of government (appropriation).
More recently, the Supreme Court held in SKYE BANK v. IWU (2017) LPELR-42595(SC):
This Court, like other commonwealth Courts which operate a written Constitution, has admirably warehoused a robust corpus of what may be termed “the jurisprudence of constitutional interpretation.” The decisions are truly legion – they are numerous. Examples include: A-G, Bendel State v. A-G, Federation and Ors  N.S.C.C. 314, 372-373. Buhari v. Obasanjo  13 NWLR (Pt. 941) 1, 281; F.R.N. v. Osahan  All FWLR (Pt. 312) 1975, 2019; Savannah Bank Ltd Ajilo  1 NWLR (Pt. 97) 305, 326; A.D.H. Ltd v. A.T. Ltd (No. 2)  ALL FWLR (Pt. 392) 1781; A-G, Abia State v. A-G, Federation  All FWLR (Pt. 275) 414, 450; A-G, Ondo State v. Ekiti State  FWLR (Pt. 79) 1431, 1472-1473, etc They include: Ndoma Egba v. Chukwuogor and Anor (2004) 2 S.C. (Pt. 1) 107; A-G, Ogun v. Aberuagba  LPELR-3164 (SC); A-G, Federation v. A-G, Lagos State  LPELR-SC. 340/2010; Obi v. I.N.E.C. (2007) All FWLR (Pt. 378) 1116, 1213; Ifezue v. Mbadugha & Anor.  All NLR 256; Kalu v. Odili  6 SCNJ 76; Ojukwu v. Obasanjo (2004) All FWLR (Pt. 222) 1666; N.U.R.T.W. v. R.T.E.A.N.  10 NWLR (Pt. 1307) 170; Governor of Kwara State v. Dada (2011) All FWLR (Pt. 592) 1638.’’
What exactly triggers the contextual meaning or the mandatory construction of the word ‘’SHALL’’ as enjoined by the Supreme Court?
Separation of powers
The ideals of separation of powers, checks, balances, and oversights distinctively provided for in sections 4,5,6 of the 1999 Constitution as altered, when read together and understood from the philosophical underpinnings and purposive-interpretationist nature of the Constitution are glaring, and they birth the very inspiration that powered the written letters of the Constitution.
The Supreme Court in BRONIK MOTORS LTD &ANOR V WEMA BANK LTD (1983) LPELR-808(SC), held:
“It has also been accepted by all our courts that a broad and liberal spirit should prevail in interpreting the provisions of our Constitution although one has constantly to bear in mind the object, which such provisions were intended to serve. Sir Udo Udoma J.S.C. very aptly stated this in Nafiu Rabiu v. The State (1980) 8-11 S.C. 130 at 148 where the learned Justice said: “My Lords, it is my view that the approach of this Court to the construction of the Constitution should be and so it has been, one of liberalism, probably a variation of the theme of the general maxim ut res magisvaleat quam perea. I do not conceive it to be the duty of this Court so to construe any of the provisions of the Constitution as to defeat the obvious ends the Constitution was designed to serve where another construction equally in accordance and consistent with the words and sense of such provisions will serve to enforce and protect such ends.” See also Prigg v. Pennsylvania 16 Pet 539: U.S. Supreme Court Reports 1060, L. Ed. first series. It is also important for the exercise in hand to remember that the provisions of a Constitution ought to be interpreted as a whole i.e. related sections ought to be interpreted together. See Senator Abraham Adesanya v. President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria & Anor (1981) 5 S.C. 112 at 134; Reid v. Covert 354 U.S. 1; 77 Supreme Court 1222.” PER NNAMANI, J.S.C. (Pp. 45-46, paras. B-A)
The Court of Appeal, in CHEVRON (NIG) LTD v. IMO STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY & ORS (2016) LPELR-41563, restated some of the twelve canons of constitutional interpretation, thus:
‘’Amongst the twelve canons of interpretation as laid down by Obaseki, JSC are the following: 1. The Constitution is an organic scheme of Government to be dealt with in its entirety; and a particular provision cannot be dissevered from the rest of the Constitution. 2. The principle upon which the Constitution was established rather than the direct operation or literal meaning of the words used, measure the purpose, and not the scope of its provisions and 3. Words of the Constitution are not to be read with stultifying narrowness. 4. Constitutional language is to be given reasonable construction and absurd consequences are to be avoided. 5. Constitutional provisions dealing with the same subject-matter are to be construed together. Etc. see Nafiu Rabi v. The State (1980) 8 – 11 S.C. 130 at 148-149. See further Oloyede Ishola V. Ajibaye (1994) LPELR – 1546 (SC), A-G. Ondo State V. A-G. Federation (2002) LPELR – 623 (SC); Kalu v. Odili (1992) 5 NWLR (Pt. 240) 130 at 156, Okotie Eboh V. Manager (2004) 18 NWLR (pt. 905) 242 and Adesanoye V. Adewole (2006) 14 NWLR (Pt. 1000) 242 at 272 para. D per Tobi, JSC; who held that where the intention of the Legislature is clear and unambiguous, Courts of Law must so interpret the provisions of the Legislation and that we cannot go outside in search of greener pastures for one of the parties …” Per AGUBE, J.C.A. (Pp. 97-98, Paras. C-F)
With the long-line of these apex and appellate court pronouncements, we affirmatively reckon that, these ideals, ensure in the main that, our federal structure is entirely democratic and that tyranny, autocracy and contempt for the laws of the land are effectively and sufficiently diminished. If that is the contextual outlook of those provisions, then we must be ready to authoritatively compel the executive’s mandatory compliance with the constitutional imperatives of the said provisions. For the Constitution cannot contradict itself. Where the literal letters admit of absurdities and constitutional aberrations, the spirit’s purpose for the provisions evidenced in its distinctive ideals set out above must define the path of its construction.
In conclusion, appropriation by any governmental authority must comply with the blueprint set out in the relevant sections of the Constitution. Any other thing, act or omission done outside of the express contemplations of the framers of our Constitution is illegal, unconstitutional and constitutes an anathema smirking of embarrassing contempt for the country’s grund-norm or Fons et Origo.
Put simply in lay terms, the appropriation of $1bn is ultra-vires the executive and by extension the President. End of Story.
Thought for the week
“Good governance with good intentions is the hallmark of our government. Implementation with integrity is our core passion.” (Narendra Modi).