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By Law Mefor

The Need For Judicial Pronouncement on the Alleged Veto/OVERRIDING of GOVERNOR FUBARA’S Assent to Four Bills

Albert Venn Dicey, (popularly known as A. V. Dicey) taught law at the University of Oxford (1882-1909), he is credited as the proponent of the RULE OF LAW. One of the cardinal tenents of the Rule of Law is that government power must be used in accordance with the law rather than the arbitrary wills of officials.

It is in conformity with the Rule of Law that the Association of Legislative Drafting and Advocacy Practitioners (ALDRAP) has recently instituted a lawsuit at the Federal High Court.

In a nutshell, the lawsuit is seeking a determination of the Federal High Court to examine whether the Rivers State House of Assembly complied with the provisions of Section 100 (5) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution when it purportedly vetoed His Excellency, Governor Fubara’s refusal of assent to four Bills namely:

Jubilating Geometric Power Aba celebrating the inauguration of the plant

  1. Rivers State House of Assembly Fund Management (Financial Autonomy) Bill, 2023
  2. ⁠Rivers State Local Government (Amendment) Bill, 2023
  3. ⁠Rivers State Traditional Rulers’ (Amendment) Bill, 2024
  4. ⁠Rivers State Advertisement and the use of state owned property prohibition(Repeal) Law, 2024.

Aliyu Lemu, SAN is the lawyer for the Association-ALDRAP and he has revealed a new strategy in the said lawsuit by raising additional issues for determination by the Federal High Court, one of which is whether the 25 members of the said Rivers State House of Assembly who voted during the said 99th sitting on 19th January 2024 are constitutionally competent (constituted quorum) considering their defection from People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Party (APC)

Recall that the Supreme Court of Nigeria in the landmark case of Ojukwu vs. Military Governor of Lagos State (1986) 3 NWLR (Pt. 26) ruled that in any society wherein the Rule of Law is paramount, then there must not be any form of resort to self-help by government officials, or government institutions (including the Rivers State House of Assembly).

According to Obaseki, JSC (as he then was), “…once a dispute has arisen between a person and the government or authority and the dispute has been brought before the court, thereby invoking the judicial powers of the State. It is the duty of the government to allow the law to take its course or allow the legal and judicial process to run its full course.”

This is the reason for filing this lawsuit to deepen democracy, constitutionalism and check the arbitrariness or the descent into dictatorship of the Rivers State Legislature.

Most importantly, it is hoped that the outcome of this lawsuit and any pronouncement by the Federal High Court and other superior courts would be expand our constitutional jurisprudence and even legisprudence as one of the judgements that would be reported inside the future editions of the Legislative Law Reports of Nigeria (1962-2010).

The Association-ALDRAP is fully committed to providing education, training and enlightenment on legislative matters through training workshops and public interest litigation such as this instant case.

Dr. Mefor is a Senior Fellow of The Abuja School of Social and Political Thoughts; email: drlawmefor@gmail.com

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