How Personal Legal Opinions And Biases Fuel Presidential Recklessness And Blunders In Nigeria
It is the firm position of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law that there must be immediate end to institutionalization and cementation of personal legal opinions and biases in Nigeria or any part thereof; particularly in matters of presidential and gubernatorial conducts and policy directions affecting the entire population of over 174 million people.
Nigeria as a Federal Republic or a Federation is clearly, fundamentally and elementarily governed by a set of laws parented by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended in February 2011.
In a society thoroughly designed to be governed by a set of laws parented by the Constitution, such as Nigeria, personal legal opinions and biases must be controlled and quarantined to public discourse, awareness, academic debates and court-room proceedings.
They must not be allowed to impeach the Constitution or usurp the powers and functions of the Attorney General of the Federation and courts of superior records in Nigeria or any part thereof.
In Nigeria, how these laws parented by the 1999 Constitution are obeyed and enforced by all authorities and persons including those holding judicial, executive and legislative powers are clearly spelt out in the same 1999 Constitution, likewise their orders of precedence and seniority.
For the avoidance of doubt, legislative powers (including creation, amendment and repealing) of the Federation or Federal Republic of Nigeria are vested in the National Assembly of the Federation.
This is by virtue of Section 4 of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution, while its subsection 7 vested in the House of Assembly of a State power to make laws for order, peace and good governance of its legislative territory.
By Section 5 of the 1999 Constitution, the executive powers of the Federation are vested in the hands of the President and his or her cabinet or executive council members; and those of the State are vested in the hands of the Governor and members of his or her executive council.
This is by virtue of subsection 2 of Section 5.
The judicial powers of the Federation are vested in the judicial courts led by the Supreme Court of Nigeria, while the judicial powers of a State are vested in the State High Courts headed by the Chief Judge of a State.
This is by virtue of Section 6 and its subsection 2 of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution.
Further, by orders of precedence and seniority, all other laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are governed by and subject to the 1999 Constitution. This is by virtue of Sections 1 (1), (3) and 315 of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution. By Section 315 of the same Constitution, existing laws of the Federation and of the States/LGAs must be brought in conformity or in line with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution by way of amendments or modifications. By Section 9 of the 1999 Constitution, the National Assembly of Nigeria is solely empowered to alter any provision of the 1999 Constitution, but under strict procedures and processes.
By the provisions of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution, no other law(s) in Nigeria can rise at par or above the provisions of the Constitution. This is in accordance with Sections 1(1) & (3) and 315 of the 1999 Constitution; and by Section 4 (5) of the same Constitution, the law of a State can never rise at par or above the existing Act of the National Assembly.
The judicial interpretational powers of all laws in Nigeria including its Constitution of 1999 are vested in the courts of superior records (i.e. High Courts, Appeal Court and Supreme Court) with clearly prescribed orders of seniority, supremacy and procedures.
The power of the Chief Law Officer of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or the Federation; particularly in matters of unbiased, sound and public oriented legal opinions as well as respect and enforcement of the rule of law and governance policies and procedures and chief crime prosecutor; are clearly vested in the hands of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice/Government of the Federation. This is by virtue of Sections 150 and 174 of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution.
By convention and Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution, laws of the Federation and of a State parented by Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution are never written or designed for lawyers alone particularly the Silk and the Bench.
All laws meant to be operational and enforceable in Nigeria or any part thereof; are written in clearest and simplest language and wording with accompanied understandable meanings and modes of interpretation that are of international standards.
In other words, our laws are written in black and white for common understanding of every citizen of the country or through his or her legal or social guardian.
Also, by convention, where laws are written in clearest language and wording, legal technicalities, jargons, gimmickry, manipulations and strenuous and uncouth legal arguments and opinions are permanently nailed in the coffin.
Modern words of law are traditionalized in the concept of law as it is and law as it ought to be. These are commonly referred to as spirit and letters of the law or the constitution.
While the letter of the law is the literal meaning or interpretation of the law, the spirit of letter is the understanding of intention of the maker of the law or what it intended to achieve specifically, generally and socio-legally.
To serve the real purpose of its creation, there must be community reading, understanding and enforcement of the spirit and letters of the law.