Tuesday, August 11, 2009
I believe that the judgments and pronouncements of the Supreme Court and indeed all the courts in Nigeria should be translated into as many local languages as requested by the litigants and other members of the public who are interested in or affected by the pronouncements as is done in India and some other countries.
While this will generate employment for the numerous graduates of Edo, Fulfulde, Gwari, Yoruba and Ijaw that we have, it will also help in clearing up any ambiguities that may be present in the said pronouncements before it becomes a big problem.
It also appears to me that their SC Lordships deliberately want to cause confusion with the kind of big grammar they use to describe rather simple cases. They use big words where simple words could suffice and refuse to simplify sentences so that whoever wants can choose whichever of the words apply to him since they mean the same thing anyway.
I am not a lawyer but the case(s) cited below are open and shut and straight forward to me, sans the contentious grammar.
The wahala between The Federal Government and the Lagos State Government ref AG LAGOS STATE vs AG FEDERATION (2004) can be summarized to be over the literary or judicial meaning of the word inchoate as used by the Supreme Court Lordships.
To the LASG, inchoate means valid but incomplete; i.e. its creation of 37 Local Governments was valid but subject to ratification by the National Assembly. They had even likened it to a baby that was born but not yet registered by the Registrar of Births. A baby just awaiting a 'naming ceremony'.
To the FG, inchoate means illegal and therefore invalid until approved by the National Assembly. Likened to a pregnancy carried beyond the term of 9 months and the said child cannot be named until it is born or at worst could be likened to a stillbirth with His Lordships as the morbid midwives.
We all know that it is partisan politics at play but the extent some people would go to just make a point is frightening. Some PDP stalwarts have even gone as far as to say that inchoate means non-existent, ultra vires, null and void.
Don't blame them. If only the SC declaration were translated into Yoruba.
Our ever hardworking Attorney General - and Defender of the Powerful - has been threatening to enforce the orders of the Supreme Court citing section 287 of the Constitution but curiously has not been able to pinpoint one single decision (order) made by the SC in that case. This is so because both parties in the matter ONLY sought and obtained declaratory reliefs. The FG got three out of nine while the LASG got four out of four.
A Declaratory Judgment only proclaims or declares what is the law, right and the existence of a legal relationship. It does not contain an order to be enforced against a Defendant which in this case was even the FG.
Besides, our AG must not be aware that a Bakassi Local Government was excised out of Nigeria recently but the said Bakassi LGA is still listed in the Constitution as one of the 774 LGAs in Nigeria even after the handover of Bakassi to Cameroun by the President on the orders of the ICJ . The National Assembly has not ratified/approved this dismemberment of the Federation and thus the action remains inchoate until this is done. Yet the AG does not deem it necessary to enforce this yet.
But of course, we know that as far as Yar a'dua is concerned, Aondoakaa is the law.
Another serious matter arising out of a SC judgment is that of Nnamdi 'Andy' Uba and his purported election as the Governor of Anambra state.
The SC had ruled that the election in which Andy Uba was purportedly elected as Governor of Anambra state was illegal since the office was not vacant as at the time of the elections. The said elections are considered null and void and never even took place in the eyes of the law.
Curiously, Andy and his supporters have taken this issue to ludicrous extents with some of his lawyers pronouncing that the SC judgment's legal effect evaporates on March 17, 2010 at the expiration of the present tenure of the Governor Peter Obi. he has since gone back to a High Court to declare him Governor from that date.
He has gone around calling himself His Excellency and his wife, Her Excellency because he was Governor illegally for how long? 20 days? What should Dr. Chris Ngige, who was Governor of the same state illegally for three years call himself? His Greatness?
His case is like that of a man who after sleeping with a married woman starts claiming husbandship. See why they needed to have translated that judgment into Igbo?