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