A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt,Rivers State on Thursday, September 12, 2019 upheld the proclamation of the 7th Edo State House of Assembly made by Governor Godwin Obaseki IN a SUIT NO. FHC/PH/CS/159/2019: Hon Yekini Idiaye & Anor V. Clerk of The NASS & 5 Ors:*
In the final judgement delivered by Justice J.K Omotosho, the court ruled that a Governor does not have the powers to issue a second proclamation after a first proclamation has been made.
According to Justice Omotosho, the Governor of a state does not take directive from National Assembly, adding that the proclamation issued by Governor Obaseki is valid; to do otherwise is null and void. The learned Justice Omotosho made following pronouncements to assert the decision of the court:
(e) That the word proclamation has been defined by Black’s law Dictionary. That from the definition, Proclamation must be in writing and published by printing out and duly signed under the hand of an identified person issuing same. That as far as law is concerned, the 6th Defendant has duly issued the required proclamation as provided for under the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
(f) That NASS cannot under the Constitition of Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 issue directive to a Governor of a state in the performance of his constitutional duties.
(g) That the Supreme Court’s decision in Balonwu’s case with respect to Anambra State Gov’s proclamation under Ngige is to the effect that proclamation can only be issued once as done by the 6th Defendant in this Edo State case.
(h) That d directive of NASS to the 6th Defendant has the effect of creating a constitutional crisis by elongating the life of Edo State House of Assembly beyond the constitutionally recognized 4 years, the house haven been duly inaugurated on 17/6/19.
(i) That the proclamation issued by the 6th Defendant on 14/6/19 for the inauguration of ESHA on 17/6/19 is valid and subsisting in law and the directive of National Assembly to the 6th Defendant to issue another proclamation is unconstitutional, null and void, just as the directive for the premises of the Edo State House of Assembly to be sealed off.
(ii) ( j) That State Governments under the Nigerian Constitution are autonomous and not appendage of the National Assembly.
He noted that the National Assembly lacks the jurisdiction to take over the Edo State House of Assembly, as doing so will amount to infringing on its right to function.
”Edo State House of Assembly is not an appendage of the National Assembly.” the learned Justice added.In addressing the prayers of the claimants,the court made a pronouncement as follows:
(a) That the National Assembly lacks the power/vires under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as (amended) to take over the Edo StateHouse of Assembly as the depositions of the claimants in their affidavit that the Edo State House of Assembly (ESHA) is still meeting and transacting business was not controverted by the defendants.
(b) That the intention of the drafters of Section 11(4&5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 is not for the National Assembly to adjudge on it’s own when the condition precedent laid down by the sections for the exercise of the power under Subsection 11(4) has happened and attempt to take over the legislative functions of the ESHA on every flimsy excuse.
(c) That NASS cannot unilaterally declare that a State House of Assembly is unable to perform its legislative functions, it is the duty of the court to make such determination upon the issue if and when properly submitted to it for determination. It is after such determination by the Court that the National Assembly can exercise its powers under Section 11(4). It is not the duty of NASS to interprete the Constitution, that is the exclusive preserve of the courts.
(d) That the NASS directive to seal off the ESHA is ultra vires the NASS as it is like the President Ordering the sealing off of a state Governor’s office.
It would be recalled that a political crisis engulfed the Edo State House of Assembly in June 2019 following the refusal of some members-elect to get inaugurated. The National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC),Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has been fingered as the mastermind of the crisis in his attempt to take over the control of the political machinery and organs of government of Edo State.