“Finally, on this point, I wish to say that in all countries of the world which operate under the rule of law, politics are always adapted to the laws of the land and not the laws to politics. Let our political operators allow this time-honoured principle to sink well into their heads and hearts.”
AMAECHI V. INEC & 2 ors (2008) 1 SCNJ 1; (2008) 5 NWLR (Pt. 1080) 227, (Supreme Court of Nigeria (per PIUS OLAYIWOLA ADEREMI, JSC)
I have just read a “JUST IN” news item, saying that ”Court Restrains Sacked Oyo LG Bosses, Malami, IGP From Forceful Takeover Of Councils.” The report which first appeared on https://oyoinsight.com/just-in-court-restrains-sacked-oyo-lg-bosses-malami-igp-from-forceful-takeover-of-councils/, has it that “The Oyo State High Court sitting in Ibadan, the State capital, on Tuesday (28/01/2020) restrained the 68 sacked council chairmen and chairmen of Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) from the forceful and illegal takeover of the council offices across the state. The Court, presided over by Honourable Justice Moshud A.A. Abass, granted the four reliefs sought by the lead counsel to the Oyo State Government, Dr. Akin Onigbinde, SAN, including an order of interim injunction restraining the sacked chairmen, the Inspector-General of Police and the Hon ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION (AGF) from “forcefully” taking over the Local Government Councils or taking steps capable of causing breach of peace in the State.”
QUESTIONS AND MATTERS ARISING:
- Injunction doesn’t and can’t restrain an already completed act. The act of taking over of the said LG Councils by the earlier sacked LG Chairmen had started and ended on Monday, 27/01/2020.
- So, with due respect, what on earth was this judge/Hon court restraining on 28/01/2020, a day after a PEACEFUL TAKE OVER HAD ENDED?
- Further, the lawfully, democratically elected Chairmen of LG Councils in Oyo State, had on 27/01/2020, matched into their various offices, to which they’re legally entitled (having been earlier sacked unconstitutionally and illegally) and quietly entered and took over their well-deserved seats. Now, it is obvious that the take-over, which had happened on 27/01/2020, clearly a day before the now aimless and Pyrrhic-victory-type (I think) injunction, was very peaceful, not forcible.
- Moreover, with due respect, did the court not advert its mind to the effect of BONA FIDE CLAIM OF RIGHT. If I am in my house or a house I occupy lawfully and someone (an intruder) came and drove me out of my house, the law on BONA FIDE CLAIM OF RIGHT permits me to stage a come-back in any manner I desire or choose, provided no disproportionate force is applied. Some reasonable degree of unreasonableness or force on my part in the process of BONA FIDE CLAIM
OF RIGHT, is even excusable by law. With the due respect, in the case of the sacked Oyo State LG Bosses, if the lawful occupants were (as they indeed had been) UNLAWFULLY removed, the lawful occupants were/are entitled , in my view, under BONA FIDE CLAIM OF RIGHT TO (including with reasonable degree of FORCE) take over what rightfully belongs to them. Yet, in the case of Oyo state, the gallant DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED LG Chairmen, didn’t even apply force , from the report we got; they had merely peacefully taken back what lawfully belongs to them.
- Is it right for a court of Law to restrain a person acting LAWFULLY, in favour of another perpetuating ILLEGALITY?
- Had the restraining court paused to inquire into the merit of the case, to see how the caretaker people/chairmen had suddenly emerged, before coming out to “restrain”(albeit a competed act)?
- Did this Hon court not advert its mind to the warning by the apex court on the dangers of granting ex parte orders? And the need to at all times, save in situations of extreme urgency, fully comply with section 36(1) Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999? Or, was the court borrowing a leaf from the CCT that had granted an order in a motion that was not argued by any Nigerian law. A sort of SUO-MOTU EX PARTE ORDER? Is Audi alterem partem dead in Nigeria? What was the urgency in this case when the SACKED LG CHAIRMEN had on 27/01/2020 already completed the peaceful act of taking over.
- Anyway, IT IS FRUSTRATING BEING A LAWYER IN AN ENVIRONMENT WHERE LAWLESSNESS REIGNS AS KING OR QUEEEN —— but, I need to ask this question (it has been bothering me), is lawlessness a Man Or a Woman. This lawlessness that is destroying law and sanity! Who and where is he/she? Honestly, it is frustrating being a lawyer in a lawless environment. But there is no place like home, although, as some say, home is where the heart is. But I have asked, are our hearts with and in Nigeria, with all these lawlessness, irrationality and blizzare happenings? Answer for yourself. I answer for myself; UDEMS’ heart is here in Nigeria. And we’d continue to work hard and to speak out and act up until our bad becomes good, our good becomes better and our better becomes the best. Until sanity replaces madness in Nigeria. This is our country. We’d ultimately cure it of all of its mad maladies and crazy plagues —- both the self imposed and politicians-inflicted. All I know is that, no man has the right to do what he pleases unless when he pleaee to do what if right (Charles Simmons).
POST SCRIPTUM: What is the difference between FORCEFUL and FORCIBLE? I think the court meant FORCIBLE but said FORCEFUL. The two are not the same IN LAW and should never be used interchangeably. “Forcible” means (in law) “effected or characterized by force or threat of force.” (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary) or “using force (=power, violence or pressure directed against a person or a thing)” (see <https://www.translegal.com/legal-english-dictionary>). A good synonym of “forcible” as used in law is “violent.” ✔On the other hand, “forceful” means “strong and assertive; vigorous and powerful.” Synonyms of “forceful” include “compelling” (as in, a compelling argument) or persuasive or convincing or cogent (as in one with a forceful personality). (See OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY). ✔Forcible, not forceful, is mostly connected with the illegal. Thus, a thing or an action can be forceful without being forcible! I however stand to be corrected, please.
Sylvester Udemezue (UDEMS)