Jurisdiction is a practical authority granted to a legal body, the court precisely to administer jurisdiction justice within the defined field of responsibility. The jurisdiction of a court may be limited by way of ouster clause. Ouster clauses are provisions in the statutes that take away the jurisdiction of a competent court of law. It denies the court the ability to make any meaningful contribution with respect to matters relating to sustainable development and good government brought before the court. The provision of section 6 (6) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, ousts the jurisdiction of the court in enforcement of directive principles.
Ouster clauses exist to preclude the jurisdiction of the court. They are usually regarded as antitletic to democracy and judicial system. The 1999 constitution contains provisions which literally ousts the jurisdiction relating to removal of executive heads by members of the legislative arm of government. The constitution thus precludes the courts from entertaining suits relating to removal proceedings of the president or the vice president, conducted by the National Assembly. The provisions under section 143 (10) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are Mutatis Mutandis with those aptly in section 188(10), which similarly obviates the courts from entertaining suits relating to removal of Governors and Deputy Governors.
The court in Chief Enyi Abaribe V. The Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly and Ors (2002) 14 NWLR (Pt 738) 466 held that in interpreting the provision of section 188(10) reiterated the fact that a case cannot be brought before it concerning the affairs of the legislature in the powers of impeachment. The court held that its jurisdiction was effectively ousted issue concerning whether the provisions of section 188 (1) – (9) were followed was not raised before the court, thus the reason for the court declining jurisdiction. Also the court in the locus classius case of Inakoju V. Adeleke (2007) a NWLR (Pt 1025) 423 held that the ouster clauses in S. 188(10) will only be applied if the provision of section 188(1) – (9) which outlines the procedure for removal of the governor has been duly complied with. If the facts of the case show that the provisions of the constitution were flaunted, the court would wade in to correct the anomaly. This judicial decision was also applied in subsequent cases like Ekpeyong V. Umana (2010) All FELR (Pt 520) 1387 at 1397 paras. GH.
The above cases show that the court has introduced a new twist to the interpretation given to ouster clauses as provided in the 1999 constitution. This show of activism was clearly shown in the case of Jimoh V. Olauoye (2003) 10 NWLR (Pt 828) 307 at 337, where the court interpreted the provision of section 26(10) of the local government law of Kwara State relating to local government chairman which is in parimateria with the provision of section 188 (10) of the constitution to the effect that the court will intervene in an impeachment suit notwithstanding section 26(10) of the local government law of Kwara State under the provision f section 26(1) – (9) which listed the procedure for removal have been complied with, as was in the case of Inakoju V. Adeleke (Supra).
Nkechi Bright Ewere
32,791 Cases Pending At Rivers Courts, CJ Reveals
About 32,791 cases instituted in 2018 are said to be pending in various courts in Rivers State.
The state Chief Judge, Justice Adanma Inyie Iyayi-Lamikanra disclosed this while speaking at the special court session held at the state Judiciary auditorium to herald the opening of the 2019/2020 legal year in Port Harcourt, last Friday.
The state chief judge while giving the breakdown of the cases said, the 32,791 cases pending were among the 46,618 cases received from the October 31, 2018 to November 8, 2019, adding that a total of 13,827 cases were filed, while 10,562 cases were disposed.
Iyayi-Lamikanra added that a total of 44,457 cases were brought forward from the 2018/2019 legal year within the period under review.
She also disclosed that out of the number, the magistrate courts received the highest with 38,460 cases, high courts got 13,483, Customary Court of Appeal 1,233, customary courts 3,011, juvenile 1,233, and sanitation court got 1,680 while revenue court has the lowest recorded cases of 70 within the period under review.
Iyayi-Lamikanra also revealed that the state Judiciary generated a total sum of N379,838,535,75 from all the courts, including the customary courts within the period under review, adding that the figure represents 47 per cent increase from last year which, she said, was remarkable.
She described the legal year’s special court session as an annual ritual in the legal profession that provides for critique and stock-staking of the activities of the preceding year, with a view to improving on the administration of justice across the state by key players and critical actors in the legal profession.
“This annual ritual provides for stock-taking and examinations for the last legal year for the administration of justice in the state.
“We have set up Judiciary Information Technology Committee policy in compliance with the directive by the National Judicial Commission (NJC),” she stated.
She used the opportunity to thank the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike for the financial support given to the state Judiciary as well as provision of vehicles to both judges and magistrates in the state.
Also speaking, the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Dr Adangor urged judges and magistrates to dispense justice without favour and fear, adding that both the rich and the poor deserve equal justice, even as he commended the state chief executive for approving and releasing funds to clear the arrears of allowances owed lawyers at the state Ministry of Justice since 2008.
In his contribution, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), O.C.J. Okocha, who spoke for members of senior bar in the state, called for total independence of the Judicial arm of government, and recommended that each state should be allowed to determine the number of judges to be appointed.
NSCDC Convicts 76 In Rivers
The National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Rivers State says it has convicted not fewer than 76 persons in the past four years.
The figures were made public by the Public Relations Officer of the corps in the state, Akin Oguntuase in a chat with The Tide, in Port Harcourt.
Oguntuase said over a thousand cases had been reported in the past years, but that those convicted were now serving different prison terms.
He explained that, “prosecution is different from conviction, and I can assure you that we have recorded huge success in the past five years in checking pipeline vandalism”.
Oguntuase said among the states in the federation Rivers State has the highest number of oil installation vandalisation and bunkering issues.
He, however, disclosed that matters relating to vandalisation of power facilities, and other government properties are low except few cases of rail line vandalisation.
Commenting on the killing of two of its men at Alakiri Flow Station, penultimate week, Oguntuase stated that investigations have commenced on the matter.
He decried the incessant attacks on its men, especially those protecting oil facilities, stating that new measures are evolved to reduce fatalities.
The Rivers State Civil Defense spokesman nonetheless dismissed claims by some members of the public that its men were compromising and allowing illegal refined products into the state.
He said, “As far as I am concerned, none of our men has been caught in such act, because once we get such matter, such officer will face the music, and maybe dismissed if found guilty.”
N16.4m Fraud: Court Discharges Ex-IGP, CP
Justice Silvanus Oriji of the FCT High Court, Apo, yesterday discharged former Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Sunday Ehindero, and Commissioner of Police, Budget, John Obaniyi, of N16.4 million fraud charge.
Ehindero and Obaniyi, a Commissioner of Police in charge of finance and budget at the Force headquarters, were arraigned on May 10, 2018, by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) .
Delivering judgment, Justice Oriji held that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against the defendants and failed to prove that they converted the said interest generated to their personal use.
According to the judge, the investigation officer, a prosecution witness, did not discredit the claim of the defendants that the interest generated from N500 million deposited in fixed deposit accounts was used for operational purposes.
“I therefore uphold the defendants’ no case submission.The defendants are hereby discharged,” he said.
At the close of the prosecution’s case, the Counsel to Ehindero, Kelvin Omoraw, and Samuel Odariko, representing Obaniyi, had filed a no-case submission.
The ICPC had accused the former IGP and Obaniyi of misappropriating the sum of N557 million donated by the Bayelsa Government to the Nigerian Police Force for purchase arms and ammunition.
The prosecution alleged that the two defendants used their positions to divert N500 million out of the N557 million into separate fixed deposit accounts belonging to them.
The N500million placed in fixed deposits, according to the anti-corruption commission, yielded N16.4 million interest, which they were accused of converting to personal use.
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