CBN, the North and Nothingness 

The Advocate By Onikepo Braithwaite

The Advocate By Onikepo Braithwaite

The Advocate

By Onikepo Braithwaite

Court of Appeal Judgement in the Plateau Lawmaker’s Case

In Iteogu v LPDC 2018 LPELR-43845(SC) per Ejembi Eko, JSC, the Apex Court held inter alia that, once a court delivers its judgement, it becomes Functus Officio, but then went on to list the exceptional circumstances in which a court, including the Supreme Court, may set aside its decision, in the interest of justice. The circumstances are as follows: 1) When the judgement was reached per incuriam, that is, when the judgement was reached without due regard to the law or facts; or 2) where the judgement was erroneous in law or 3) where the previous judgement is contrary to public policy or occasioning a miscarriage of justice or perpetuating injustice.

The Court of Appeal decision in the above-mentioned Plateau Lawmakers’ case, seems to fulfil all three conditions listed in Iteogu v LPDC (Supra) as reasons why the Intermediate Court or any court, can set aside its seemingly perverse decision. The Court of Appeal decision appears to have been reached per incuriam, as the reasons for nullifying their victories bordered on alleged irregularities in connection to party nomination and sponsorship, matters that have already been settled by law and judicial precedent; unfortunately, the Intermediate Court chose to ignore the law and the established judicial precedent in that regard. The decision was not only erroneous in law, it was also contrary to public policy, as it totally truncated the will of the Plateau people who overwhelmingly voted for the Lawmakers, by declaring their votes wasted, based on a premise that has no foundation in law. There’s a plethora of Supreme Court decisions, particularly the most recent one of Plateau State Governor, Caleb Mutfwang whose case appears to be on all fours with that of the Plateau Lawmakers, that affirms the miscarriage of justice occasioned by the Court of Appeal decision in the case of the Plateau Lawmakers, complete with orbiter dicta in their favour. However, the Governor’s judgement was reversed on appeal to the Supreme Court, since unlike the Lawmakers, the Governor’s right of appeal didn’t terminate at the Court of Appeal. See Section 246(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended in 2023)(the Constitution) and the case of NEPA v Ososanya 2004 5 N.W.L.R.Part 867 Page 601 at 624 on perverse decisions that amount to a miscarriage of justice, as in the case of the Plateau Lawmakers. 

The famous words of Chukwudifu Akunne Oputa, JSC in Adegoke Motors Ltd & Anor v Dr Babatunde Adesanya & Anor 1989 3 N.W.L.R. Part 109 Page 250 at 274 come to mind, that: “We are final not because we are infallible; rather, we are infallible because we are final”; because, in the case of the Plateau Lawmakers, the fallibility of the Court of Appeal became more glaring, by virtue of the decision of the Supreme Court in Governor Mutfwang’s matter.

Based on the aforementioned reasons, and in the interest of justice, ex facie (on the face of it), the judgement in the Plateau State Lawmakers case appears to be ripe for a review by the Court of Appeal –  an application by the Lawmakers to the Court of Appeal, for the decision to be set aside, and there are several grounds available to support this application, including the Supreme Court decision in Governor Mutfwang’s case. However, some have also argued that because of the 60 day timeline stated in Section 285(6) of the Constitution, the time in which the appeal should have been disposed of at the Court of Appeal has elapsed, thereby, leaving the Lawmakers with no redress despite the injustice that they may have faced (see Section 1(1) of the Constitution on its bindingness on all throughout Nigeria). But, can Section 6(6)(a) of the Constitution which provides that judicial powers vested shall extend, notwithstanding anything contrary in the Constitution, to all inherent powers and sanctions of a court of law, avail the Lawmakers? The inherent powers of a court refers to the “authority possessed implicitly without its being derived from another”, that allow a court to take necessary actions to fulfil its constitutional mandate, which is the dispensation of justice.  My dear colleagues, kindly, share your thoughts on this thorny issue. Thank you. 

Much Ado About Nothing!

Good Governance vs Group Dominance 

Galatians 3:1“Èyin alainironu ara Galatia….” (O foolish Galatians, who hath betwitched you….”. 

I thought this department/agency relocation issue, would have died a natural death by now. Alas! I was wrong, as it is still raging on. I must say that I am appalled that, while for the past few years Nigeria has been tottering on the brink of collapse/being a Failed State, based on successive governments and their years of bad decisions and bad governance, and the focus now should be on how best to salvage our great nation, those who are part of the organs of government and should be occupying themselves with this urgent task of nation building, are instead, engaged in a fruitless venture of spewing angry vitriol and spreading venom about the relocation of a couple of departments of Government to Lagos! 

It is unfortunate that in Nigeria, election into office doesn’t necessarily depend on performance; if it did, methinks that Politicians would be constrained to spend their time more gainfully, in order to yield positive results that will boost their popularity and assist them in their bid for re-election, without which their re-election would be an impossibility, instead of wasting time on nonsense. 

It has become as clear as a bell, that instead of playing their roles set out in Sections 4, 5 & 6 of the Constitutionto achieve the goals set out in Chapter II therein for the betterment of all Nigerians, some are rather preoccupied with some zones or one group or the other being or staying in control of government and indeed, Nigeria, contrary to Section 1(2) of the Constitution, which prohibits any persons or groups of persons taking control of the Government of Nigeria. See the case of AG Abia State & Ors v AGF (2003) LPELR-610 (SC) per Salihu Modibbo Alfa Belgore, JSC (later CJN). 

The Headquarters of CBN remains in Abuja, ditto for the Ministry of Aviation and all the other Ministries; what is the big deal if the Commercial Bank Supervisory & Examination Department is relocated to Lagos, when practically every Bank in Nigeria’s head office is in Lagos, because Lagos is the Commercial Capital/Centre, the Financial Hub of Nigeria? Why would the CBN Commercial Bank Supervisory & Examination Department that supervises and inspects the Banks to ensure compliance etc be in Abuja, when the engine rooms and main systems of the Banks they are monitoring are in Lagos, with only back ups in Abuja? The relocation alternatives suggested by Senator Ali Ndume – Kaduna, Nasarawa or Kogi, shows his fixation on every Government agency being in the North even if it is pointless or insensible, and a lack of understanding of the issues that necessitated the move. It appears that, a mountain is being made out of a molehill – much ado about nothing!

I think that it is at this point that, we all must be reminded that, 100% of Zero is Zero. When we lose our focus and instead, choose to concentrate our efforts on irrelevancies and baseless rumours, while our country continues in the downward spiral that it has been in for years, if Nigeria collapses and fails, it will hit rock bottom – Ground Zero, and those who are searching for domination and threatening political consequences for moving a couple of departments around, will find themselves dominating Zero – nothing, but a Failed State. 

Should this Not be of More Concern?

If not a Failed State, Nigeria has become rather fragile and dysfunctional, over the last decade at least. For starters, it would make more sense for those in Government to spend as much energy trying to strategise on how to secure the lives and property of all Nigerians, seeing as this is the primary purpose of Government (see Section 14(2)(b) of the Constitution), instead of scheming in advance for the 2027 election almost immediately after we have barely completed that of 2023! 

I remember we started the New Year in 2018 with attacks that killed many people  in Benue State. In 2024, we started the new year in Plateau the same way as Benue State in 2018; should this not be of more concern? Should the issue of the monitoring of our porous borders not be of more concern, since there have been numerous allegations that violent, foreign  criminals come in through them to kill and maim Nigerians? I read a news report that the Lagos State PDP Chairman was kidnapped on the Lagos Ibadan Expressway a few days ago, while landmine explosions which killed several people, have recently rocked Borno State – an attempt to frustrate Governor Zulum’s efforts to rebuild communities and resettle IDPs. Should the recent spate of insecurity in Abuja, the country’s capital, and indeed, the general insecurity in Nigeria not be of more concern? 

When the APC came to power on May 29, 2015, the black market exchange rate of the Naira to the Pound was less than N320 to £1; today it is hovering at about N1,780-1,800 to £1, and still on the rise. Should that not be of more concern?

Our mineral resources are being mined illegally by the Chinese and others, instead of us harnessing our resources for the development and betterment of our country (see Section 16 of the Constitution), so much so that these clandestine activities are reported to have led to the recent explosion disaster in Ibadan, Oyo State recently. Our failure to harness our mineral resources and take advantage of the huge economic potential Nigeria has, has left the door wide open for marauders to enter Nigeria and plunder our resources. Should the issue of economic sabotage perpetrated by foreigners with the connivance of some unpatriotic Nigerians, not be of more concern? That revenue that should be coming into our Government coffers for our general benefit, is going into private, foreign and unknown pockets? Nigeria, once known as the giant of Africa, became the poverty capital of the world a few years ago; our people are truly suffering – should this not be of more concern? 

I have said it before and I repeat myself – the amount of oil reserves that Nigeria has, cannot be compared to its gas. Yet, in Africa, Algeria appears to export more LNG than we do (it appears that our LNG production may have declined in the last few years), and we waste gas by flaring instead of harnessing it, thereby losing many millions of Dollars in revenue annually, while destroying the environment! This is what Yoruba’s call ‘Apa’ (Wastrel). Should this not be of more concern?

Successive governments have seen nothing wrong in cattle being herded on the streets of most cities in Nigeria, in broad day light for that matter, as if we are still living in the dark ages! Should this not be of concern? That the fact that Herders also take their cattle to graze on people’s farms thereby destroying their crops, has led to hundreds of unnecessary deaths. See the 2017 case of State v Haruna Usman, in which a 15 year old Herder was sentenced to death by the then Chief Judge of Kogi State, Hon. Justice Nasiru Ajanah, for stabbing one Happy David to death, contrary to Section 221 of the Penal Code, simply because the deceased warned him not to graze his cattle on his Parents’ farm, because a pesticide which could prove harmful to the animals, had been sprayed on the crops. 

The other day we attended a funeral in Ondo, and I asked about cattle herding and open grazing there, and the Driver told us that now that Aketi (late Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN) has passed away, they have started to see cows on the roads again. Another problem of Strong Men and not-so- strong institutions. If we had strong institutions, the policy of prohibition of open grazing in Ondo State would not stop, because Aketi is longer with us. The good policy, would outlive him. 

I have been to South Africa twice, once to Johannesburg and once to Cape Town. South Africa is known for its meat. They export meat. Yet, I did not see one cow on the road, on both trips. In civilised countries when cattle, sheep etc are observed wandering on the street, maybe having wandered out of a farm that may be in close proximity to the road, such incidents  are immediately reported to the Police, so that the animal can be removed from the road! Should it not be of more concern, that instead of moving with the times, some people are hellbent of keeping us in the dark ages because of their own selfish interests, and we need to wrestle Nigeria from this regressive stranglehold as a matter of urgency? 


My point? A country doesn’t develop when most of its decisions are imprudent, instead of being based on exigencies of the country’s circumstances. I enjoin you all to read the article of Okey Ikechukwu on the back page of the ThisDay publication of last Saturday, in which, inter alia, he informs us that for example, in South Africa, while the Executive arm of Government is located in the country’s capital, Pretoria, Parliament is 1,453.2 kilometres away in Cape Town; the Supreme Court is in Bloemfontein and the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg. Who says that every government agency, must necessarily be in the capital city or its environs? 

My last word is that, we are all Nigerians; let’s start to make decisions that are for the good of us all, not just a particular ethnic group, religion, sex etc. Aside from the fact that this is discrimination contrary to Section 42(1)(a) & (b) of the Constitution, many of such discriminatory decisions have proven to be counterproductive for the country. 

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