PRESIDENT BUHARI CANNOT OVERRULE THE SUPREME COURT
PROF. MIKE A. A. OZEKHOME, SAN, CON, OFR, FCIArb, LL.M, Ph.D, LL.D, D.Litt.
Buhari in his broadcast on Thursday, February 16, 2023, unilaterally varied the apex court’s extant order of maintenance of status quo, by directing the CBN Governor to the effect that “the old N200 banknotes be released back into circulation…to circulate as legal tender with the new N200, N500 and N1000 bank notes for 60 days…”. The President then issued a dicta, more in the form of a military Decree, that, “in line with section 20 (3) of the CBN Act, 2007, all existing old N1000 and N500 notes remain redeemable at the CBN and designated prints”. This order is a clear violation of and disobedience to the existing order of the apex court which had already maintained the status quo ante bellum of all parties involved in the Naira re-design dispute.
The Supreme Court had on Wednesday, 15th February, 2023, after the first interim order, adjourned the suit originally filed by the Attorneys-General of Kano, Kogi and Zamfara States (other interested parties were later joined) to the 22nd of February, to enable it hear the entire matter holistically. Without saying so in many words, every person very well knew that this adjournment was a further elongation of its earlier interim order granted against the CBN and the Federal Government, represented by the Attorney-General of the Federation; restraining it from carrying out its directives that the old naira notes would cease to be legal tender by 10th of February, 2023. The order was to have lasted till 15th February, 2023. During the proceedings of that day, the matter was again adjourned to 22nd February, for full hearing. Every Nigerian had expected that the Federal Government would respect this apex court’s position. But President Buhari demurred. He made himself Supreme Leader; an Emperor; Potentate, Mikado and Overlord.
Buhari’s broadcast to the Nation therefore literally overruled the Supreme Court of the land, in a way and manner only a military tyrant could ever contemplate. Buhari’s action is a reminder of the apocryphal saying of autocratic and despotic Emperor Louis XIV, who, on 13th April, 1655, stood in front of Parliament and imperiously declared, “L’Etat C’est Moi (I am the State)”. This was to underline the fact that he and he alone, had absolute power over his Nation. His father had abdicated the throne due to mass protests. Louis XIV himself met the same fate. His reign over France and Navarre was short lived. It only lasted for 20 minutes, after which he too abdicated the throne.
Buhari’s imperious order was a frontal call to chaos, anarchy and national upheaval. It was a direct assault on the authority of the Supreme Court, the highest court of the land; and also the head of the entire Judiciary, the 3rd arm of government under the doctrine of separation of powers, most ably popularized in 1748 by Baron de Montesque, a great French Philosopher.
To have whimsically and capriciously varied the order of the Supreme Court was to pick and choose what order to obey or disobey. This breaches the supremacy of the 1999 Constitution provided for in section 1(1) thereof. It also frontally assaults the provisions of section 287(1) of the Constitution which provides that “the decisions of the Supreme Court shall be enforced in any part of the Federation by all authorities and persons, and by courts with subordinate jurisdiction to that of the Supreme Court”.
Once given, an order of the court is binding on all. The Apex Court in ROSSEK V. ACB LTD (1993) 8 NWLR (Pt. 312) 382 at 434 re-stated the law to the effect that:
“A judgment remains binding until it is set aside by a competent Court… To hold otherwise is to clothe a party against whom a judgment has been obtained with the discretion to decide, in his wisdom that the judgment is invalid and not binding on him. This to my mind, is an invitation to anarchy. I do not understand the law to be so.” – per Ogundare, JSC.
Also, in STATE v. SOLOMON (2020) LPELR-55598(SC), the Supreme Court held thus:
“It is the law that a decision of a Court of competent jurisdiction, no matter that it is seems palpably null and void, unattractive or insupportable, remains good law and uncompromisingly binding until set aside by a superior Court of competent jurisdiction.”
The Supreme Court, in the case of ABACHA V. FAWEHINMI (2000) 6 NWLR (Pt. 660) 228 at page 317 E-F, held as follows:-
“A Court order must be obeyed and even if it is a nullity, it has to be set aside on appeal against it”. Per NWALI SYLVESTER NGWUTA, JSC (Pp 25 – 25 Paras D – E).
See also the locus classicus of GOVERNOR OF LAGOS STATE VS. OJUKWU (1986) 1 NWLR PT. 18, PG. 621.
This is one instance where the apex court should bare its teeth and bite. This is more so because President Buhari had himself acknowledged in his speech, the pendency of the matter before the Supreme Court. Surely, no one is above the law; not even President Muhammadu Buhari himself.
Buhari’s broadcast rather than be re-assuring and balming the frayed nerves of a traumatized citizenry and a beleaguered nation, was the exact opposite; a complete anti-climax. It was a clarion call for total disenchantment, disillusionment, despair and desolation. The speech was not only highly unpresidential; but was vividly insensate and insensitive to the suffering of Nigerian citizens, who, due to no fault of theirs, can neither now use the old currency, nor access the new one. Banks claim not to have the new currency in their vaults. What manner of government would consciously and deliberately throw its country into a spin, and its citizens under the bus, in a policy that could have been handled with better planning and more decency, efficiency and human face? This is the first time in my life I watch Nigerians buy money with money – buying Naira with Naira – at exorbitant exchange rates.
When Queen Elizabeth II died in September, 2022, the British government set about changing its governance template to reflect the realities of the moment. It decided to change the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the British Pound Sterling to that of King Charles III, her son who had succeeded her. The effective take-off date of the new Pound Sterling was fixed for middle of 2024; nearly two years from the announcement of the change. There were no violent protests or any upheavals because the citizens immediately bought into the historic and laudable project, as it afforded them enough time to put their house in order.
How many Nigerians know that Queen’s Counsel (QC)(the equivalent of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) has since been changed to King’s Counsel (KC); and that Queen’s English is now King’s English? We have seen the ugly scenes of frustrated Nigerians fighting at ATMs; or going completely nude; students and soldiers fighting each other; some POS holders being burnt alive; while Police shot and killed unarmed Nigerians. Are we a cursed Nation, that an otherwise beautiful policy whose fiscal, monetary, economic, and development advantages are unquantifiable should be so mishandled and so grossly messed up as to lead to widespread national protests; burning of banks; destruction; mayhem and killings. Just what is wrong with us as a Nation? I do not know; or do you?
The Russian Ruble which had been used since the 14th Century is the second-oldest currency in the world, next only to the British Sterling. Following the dissolution and fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Soviet Ruble remained the currency of the Russian Federation until 1992, when in 1993; a new set of coins was issued with a new set of banknotes in the name of the Bank of Russia. There were no killings and mayhem.
Chinese currency comes by two names – the Chinese Yuan (CNY) and the People’s Renminbi (RMB). The distinction is subtle: because while the Renminbi is the official currency of China, the Yuan is the principal unit of account for that currency.
Today, the Renminbi is one of the top-five most-used currencies in the world, in addition to the U.S. Dollar, Euro, Yen, and the British Pound. Yet, the Naira which is not even recognised as a legal tender in any part of the world is being used by the government to oppress and torment its citizens.
The Euro is the new ‘single currency’ of the European Monetary Union. Adopted on January 1, 1999, by 11 Member States. Greece became the 12th Member state to adopt the Euro on January 1, 2001. On January 1, 2002, these 12 countries officially introduced the Euro banknotes and coins as legal tender. Slovenia became the 13th member state to adopt the Euro on January 1, 2007.
Venezuela debuted with a new currency in 2018, a currency that featured six fewer zeros. This was a response to years of spirally inflation.
In December, 2019, eight West African countries agreed to change the name of their common currencies to ECO. This effectively severed these countries from the CFA Franc; and therefore, their former colonial masters. The countries are Benin, Burkina – Faso, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo.
On January 1, 2023, Croatia joined the Euro Zone, replacing its Kuna with the Euro.
When these independent countries changed from their original currency to the new Euro, there was no ruckus; no brouhaha; no wahala, donnybrook or rhubarb.
Yet, some Nigerians, for political exigencies or correctness, are shamelessly celebrating a bare-faced assault on the common man and woman and the authority of the Supreme Court. This was the same way despotic Hitler of Germany was celebrated, applauded and deified during the third Reich, until it became irredeemably too late to retreat. Read the immortal words of Martin Niemoller (1892 – 1984), a German theologian and Lutheran Pastor who bemoaned Hitler’s atrocities and their debilitating effect on millions of Jews.
Though having a cashless economy appears quite inviting, appealing, titillating and tantalizing, it must be appreciated that advanced countries such as the UK, US and the EU that have full complement of infrastructure, still use coins. A cent in the US, or penny in the UK are still valued and in wide circulation. When last did you see one Kobo, five Kobo or ten Kobo coins in Nigeria? I have not seen any for years. Or have you?
Labour Party rejects Enugu governorship poll results
The Labour Party has rejected the result of Saturday’s governorship election that produced the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Peter Mbah, as the winner of the poll.
The Independent National Electoral Commission had Wednesday night declared Mbah winner of the poll after the results of the controversial Nkanu East Local Government Area were accepted and recalculated over allegations of over-voting among others.
LP had through its agent, Dr Eugene Edeoga, on Sunday night, raised objections on the results of Nkanu East, stating that the elections were not conducted inline with INEC Guidelines.
He said that there was over-voting, manipulation of election results and non-use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System machine in the LGA.
He, however, demanded the results should be cancelled. On Monday, following the protests and petition, INEC suspended the collation and declaration of poll results. On Wednesday, INEC said it had revised the results and found out that there was manipulation and over-voting in Nkanu East LGA.
However, after allocating votes to parties according to what it said were genuine votes from the local government, the returning officer declared Peter Mbah of PDP the winner of the poll.
However, reacting to the results of the election as declared by INEC, the LP said it would not accept the result, adding the March 18, 2023 election was marred by widespread and wholesale rigging, intimidation of voters, doctoring, mutilation and manipulation of the results.
LP in a statement issued on Thursday by the State Publicity Secretary, Onuora Odo, stated, “It’s on record that the process of accreditation and use of BVAS was not followed in some of the pooling booths, especially Nkanu East.”
“It’s also on record that in the course of the collation of results, the results of Nkanu East showed monumental disparities between the number of registered voters and the total number of votes, but the obviously compromised INEC decided to disregard the provisions of the Electoral Act and went ahead to declare the conspicuously padded results despite complaints from the opposition parties.
“This was the reason why they deliberately delayed the announcement of the result to pave way for further manipulations.
“The position of the party, therefore, is that the result as declared by INEC on the 22nd of March, 2023, four days after the elections were concluded, was heavily doctored and does not reflect the wishes of Ndi Enugu State.”
He added, “In view of the foregoing developments, we are, by this media release, registering our dissatisfaction over the electoral irregularities and malfeasances activated and actuated by heavy financial inducements.
“Let it be known that our great party is poised to deepen the root of democracy in Nigeria and can not fold our arms and allow this level of the electoral heist to go unchallenged.
“In due course, the position of the party will be made known as we have started assembling our facts together to do the needful. Surely, this is a rape of democracy.”
Military, other security agencies curb violence during elections ,says DHQ
The Defence Headquarters has attributed several arrests the military and other security agencies made prior to February 25 and March 18 general elections to the relative peace enjoyed during and after the elections.
It said that all the political thugs arrested by the troops during the general elections and the weapon they seized from the thugs were handed over to the Nigeria Police authorities for further action.
The Director, Defence Media Operations,Major General Musa Danmadami who disclosed this on Thursday at the fortnightly media press briefing on the activities of military against the insurgents and criminals in the country did not give the number of arrests.
He said that prior to the elections all the issues raised about trouble spots across the country were addressed and nip in the bud, “that is why we did not see wide spread violence during and after the elections.”.
On the ongoing military operations in the country, Major General Danmadami said that In the past 2 weeks, both kinetic and non-kinetic operations were conducted in the various theatres of operations by the troops, with significant results recorded.
He said that not less than 27 terrorists were neutralised in encounter at various locations with the troops between March 9 and 23 while more than 46 AK-47 rifles were recovered from Boko Haram/ Islamic State of West Africa Province, ISWAP during the period.
Danmadami said that in the North East zone, the troops recovered 16 AK47 rifles, 1 x 60mm mortar bomb, 10 dane guns, 12 dummy rifles, 1 pump action gun, 1 PKT gun, 280 rounds of 7.62mm special, 118 rounds of 7.62 x 50mm NATO, 13 rounds of 5.56mm ammo, 10 rounds of 7.62 x 54mm NATO ammo, 1 round of 12.7mm NATO, 17 AK47 magazines, 1 firing pin, 1 mechanic tools box, 2 knives, 6 motorcycles, 24 mobile phones, 41 live stocks, assorted food items and 1 vehicle.
Troops of the Joint Task Force, Operation HADIN KAI and other operations in the North East zone also sustained and continued to dominate their general area of operations.
According to the military spokesman, “Operational activities were conducted in villages, forest, mountains, towns and cities of Gwoza, Askira – Uba, Kukawa, Monguno, Damboa, Mobbar, Konduga, Ngala, Bama, Dikwa and Guzamala Local Government Area of Borno State and Yunusari, Geidam, Karasuwa and Damaturu Local Government Areas of Yobe State.
“Operations were also conducted in Bali Local Government Area of Taraba State. Several raids, fighting patrols and ambushes operation were conducted to curb the activities of terrorists and other criminals elements within the Area of Operation.
He said that troops while acting on credible intelligence ambushed Boko Haram/Islamic State of West Africa Province terrorists at locations within Askira-Uba, Kukawa, Gwoza and Damboa Local Government Areas of Borno State. At these locations, troops made contact with the terrorists, during which 7 terrorists were neutralized.
Troops exploited the area and recovered 8 AK47 rifles, 64 rounds of 7.62mm special, 128 rounds of 7.62mm belted ammo, 1 pump action gun, 1 PKT machine gun, 13 rounds of 5.56mm ammo, 1 jack knife, 1 mechanic tools box, military camouflage uniform, 1 boafeng radio, 6 motorcycles, 1 blanket, 4 mobile phone and 1 sack of groundnut.
In same vein ,troops of Operation SAFE HAVEN and WHIRL STROKE have sustained the offensive against terrorists and other criminal elements in the North Central Zone.
He said that in furtherance to this, operational activities were carried out in villages and Local Government Areas of Kwara, Plateau, Kogi and Niger States.
“On 12 March 2023, troops arrested 2 suspected kidnappers while attempting to collect ransom for a kidnapped victim at Gegu-Beki village in Kogi Local Government Area, Kogi State. Preliminary investigation revealed that the suspect was sent to collect the sum of N2,000,000.00.”
While troops of Operations HADARIN DAJI and other operations in the North West zone have also continue to sustained their dominance over the menace of terrorist and other criminal activities.
“Precisely, on 10 March 2023, troops intercepted and arrested 11 suspected terrorists at Dukku town in Dukku Local Government Area of Gombe State”, the director said.
According to him,a search of the general area by the troops led to recovery of 7 pump action guns, 2 locally fabricated cartridges and 10 mobile phones.
He said that between 11 – 13 March 2023, troops conducted fighting patrol to bandits camps at villages within Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State as well as villages within Wasagu/Danko, and Zuru Local Government Areas of Kebbi State and made contact with terrorists.
Following the various encounters, troops neutralized 2 bandits while others fled with gun shot injuries and made a recovery of 139 rounds of 7.62 x 54mm links of PKM ammunition, 8 motorcycles, 175 cows, 113 sheep and 2 mobile phones rescued 12 kidnapped victims from their camp.
Ekweremadu, wife found guilty of organ trafficking
A former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, his wife, Beatrice, have been found guilty of organ trafficking in the United Kingdom.
The duo alongside their daughter, Sonia, and a medical doctor, Dr. Obinna Obeta, were found guilty of facilitating the travel of a young man to Britain with a view to his exploitation after a six-week trial at the Old Bailey.
They criminally conspired to bring the 21-year-old Lagos street trader to London to exploit him for his kidney, the jury found on Thursday.
The judge, Justice Jeremy Johnson, will pass a sentence at a later date according to The Guardian UK.
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