Is there A Bounden Obligation on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to Honour An Invitation/Summon By The Nationwide Meeting?: Laying the Difficulty to Relaxation
There have been arguments in a number of quarters as to whether or not the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (hereinafter to be referred to as ‘the President.’) can select to honour an invitation/summons by the Nationwide Meeting vel non. This paper examines, in succinct element, whether or not there exists a bounden responsibility on the President to honour a summons by the Nationwide Meeting or not. This paper additionally affords a panoramic view of the immunity conferred, by advantage of part 308 of the Structure of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (hereinafter to be referred to as ‘the Structure’), on the President vis-à-vis the energy of the Nationwide Meeting to summon any particular person in Nigeria.
TRAJECTORY OF FACTS
Earlier than delving into the authorized consideration, it is fairly useful to give a trajectory of info that birthed this article. On the twenty eighth of November, 2020, over 47 farmers have been gruesomely slaughtered by insurgents at Koshebe village in the Jere Native Authorities Space of Borno. This generated heated andendless remarks relating to the parlous state of safety in the Nation. Prior to this incident, there have been a spate of calls for the elimination of the Service Chiefs following the deteriorating safety of the nation, however all have fallen on deaf ears. The Nationwide Meeting, in a bid to deal with the safety points beleaguering the nation, prolonged an invitation to the President, who in flip agreed to oblige the invitation. Nonetheless, following some items of recommendation from the Lawyer Normal of the Federation and the All Progressive Congress, the ruling occasion, there was an aculeated volte-face of the choice of the President to oblige the invitation.
EXAMINING THE MODAL VERBS ‘MAY’ AND ‘SHALL’
The honourable Lawyer Normal of the Federation and some others,have positioned reliance upon the provisions of part 67(1) which supplies thus:
“The President MAY attend any joint assembly of the Nationwide Meeting or any assembly of both Home of the Nationwide Meeting, both to ship an deal with on nationwide affairs, together with fiscal measures or to make such assertion on the coverage of presidency AS HE CONSIDERS TO BE OF NATIONAL IMPORTANCE.” – (Emphasis Mine)
TheAttorney Normal has mentioned that the use of the phrase ‘Could’ in the above pericope confers an inherentdiscretionin the President to seem earlier than the Nationwide Meeting and not at its behest. This poses the query of whether or not the above provisions relied on by the Lawyer Normal of the Federation is certainly discretionary or obligatory?
Prima facie, the use of the modal verb ‘Could’ in a statute confers a discretion as in opposition to ‘Shall’ which confers a mandate. Nonetheless, the courts have additionally interpreted the phrase ‘Could’ to imply obligatory. See AROWOSAYE v OGEDENGBE
In truth, in the case of UDE v NWARA & ANOR,  the Supreme Courtroom held that the phrase ‘Could’ in a laws ought to be construed as obligatory whenit imposes an obligation on a public official.
To my thoughts, the Lawyer Normal of the Federation makes a foofaraw of the provisions of part 67(1) of the Structure, any argument precipitating from the provisions of the aforementioned part as regards the President’s discretion to honour a summons by the Nationwide Meeting is untenable. Moreover, it is submitted that thesection ought to not be interpreted in nubibus however should be learn in context, it is clear from the above part that the President does not want to be invited or summoned to attend any joint assembly of the Nationwide Meeting or any assembly of both Home of the Nationwide Meeting, his attendance to the conferences of the Nationwide Meeting is premised upon delivering an deal with, it is primarily based on a visitation ‘as he so considers to be of nationwide significance’ not an invitation.
CAN THE PRESIDENT CHOOSE TO HONOUR A SUMMONS/INVITATION BY THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY?
The Lawyer Normal of the Federation has additionally mentioned, ‘the invitation seeks to put the operational use of the Armed Forces to a public interrogation and certainly taking the constitutional rights of regulation making past bounds.’
Nonetheless, it should be famous that by the provisions of part 4 of the Structure, the Legislature derives its powers to make legal guidelines for the peace, order and good authorities of the Federation, this extends to the energy to make legal guidelines for the regulation of the powers exercisable by the President as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation. See part 218(4)(b) of the Structure. With out doubt, the provisions of part 14(2)(b) of the Structure states incisively that the major goal of authorities shall be the safety and welfare of the individuals. The failure of the President to safe the lives and properties of residents of the nation with the out there mechanisms and legal guidelines in place calls for the consideration of the Legislature who are the representatives of the individuals.
The govt powers of the Federation is vested in the President, and it extends to the execution and upkeep of the Structure, all legal guidelines made by the Nationwide Meeting and to all issues with respect to which the Nationwide Meeting has energy to make legal guidelines. See part 5(1)(a) & (b) of the Structure. From the foregoing, it is obvious that the President workout routines the legal guidelines made by the Nationwide Meeting,the administration of these legal guidelines are in flip subjected to checks and balances by the Nationwide Meeting as evinced in the provisions of section88(1)(a)&(b)the Structure.
Moreover, the mixed impact of sections 88 and 89 of the Structure empowers the Nationwide Meeting to summon any public officer together with the President in the midst of conducting investigation into any matter with respect to which it has energy to make legal guidelines and the conduct of affairs of any particular person, authority, ministry orgovernment departmentcharged, or supposed to be charged, with the responsibility of or accountability for executing or administering legal guidelines enacted by the Nationwide Meeting.
Apropos the foregoing, the President is topic to the scrutiny of the Nationwide Meeting.
It is additionally crucial to state in pungent phrases that in deciphering the Structure of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a broad and liberal method, extra usually than not, is adopted to promote its goal. In order to descry its goal recourse should be made to the taproot of the Structure, the preamble. A preamble is like a recital in a deed. The place they are used, they give the historical past or causes behind a specific enactment; a helpful information in ascertaining the legislative intent. Ergo, as a result of of the significance of the preamble, I ought to permit myself to reproduce it ipsissima verba, hereafter:
“We the individuals of the Federal Republic of Nigeria:
Having firmly and solemnly resolved:
To stay in unity and concord as one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign Nation beneath God devoted to the promotion of inter-African solidarity, world peace, worldwide co-operation and understanding
And to present for a Structure for the goal of selling good authorities and welfare of all individuals in our nation on the ideas of Freedom, Equality and Justice, and for the goal of consolidating the Unity of our individuals:
Do hereby make and give to ourselves the following Structure” – (Emphasis Mine)
The preamble merely ascertains that the intendment of the draughtsman is that provisions of the Structure should promote good authorities and welfare of individuals in the nation, which contains safety of lives and properties. It is my deferential view, that the provisions of the Structure ought to not be interpreted in opposition to the underlying ideas of Justice, Separation of Powers, Particular person Rights, and of Checks and Balances, which type the substratum of an best democracy.
IMMUNITY OF THE PRESIDENT VIS-À-VIS THE POWER OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY TO SUMMON ANY PERSON IN NIGERIA
Granted, the provisions of part 308 of the Structure locations a restriction on authorized proceedings in opposition to the President throughout his interval of workplace. This means that civil or felony proceedings can not be instituted in opposition to him, he can not be arrested or imprisoned,his look can not be compelled by the course of of any courtroom.
It’s nonetheless attention-grabbing to word that the Legislature isn’t a courtroom.The courts belong to the Judiciary, one of the three arms of authorities while the Nationwide Meeting belongs to the Legislature, one other arm of authorities. Ergo, the Nationwide Meeting is not hamstrung by part 308 of the Structure from summoning the President. It is additionally pertinent to word that the energy of the Nationwide Meeting to summon any particular person does not in any manner transmogrify or mutate it into a courtroom. Moreover, in this author’s opinion, the immunity granted in part 308, ought to not be interpreted as being a carte blanche for the President to disregard an invite prolonged to him by the Nationwide Meeting in a bid to focus on the insecurity points which have crystallised to loss of lives and properties, kidnappings, killings, advert nauseam. The President is not above the Structure. If the Legislature can’t invite/summon the President, then who can? The Structure supplies for checks and balances amongst the three arms of authorities, and this is its feasibility at play.
Extra so, with the biggest respect to Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), the realized Senior Advocate has failed to advert his thoughts totally to the truth that Nigeria operates a presidential system of authorities and not a cupboard system of authorities. In a presidential system of authorities, the ideas of separation of powers, and of checks and balances are a lot extra possible and practicable in contrast to that of a cupboard or parliamentary system of authorities.
It is nonetheless appalling that the constitutionality vel non of the President’s refusal to honour the invitation/summons by the Nationwide Meeting on a matter as pertinent as safety is debated and whirligigged. As initially acknowledged, the safety and welfare of the individuals shall be the major goal of authorities, part 14(2)(b) of the Structure. A authorities that has failed in these two essential points, no matter how lauded or defended, has carried out beneath par.
The President has been rightfully summoned, he ought to oblige. A lengthy lasting resolution to the issues of insecurity bedeviling the Nation should be birthed.
REFERENCES DAMILOLA OBANIJESU OYAWOLE writes from School of Regulation, College of Ilorin, firstname.lastname@example.org +2349033182827
 See as an illustration Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, Vanguard, December 11,2020, “Nationwide Meeting is constitutionally competent to summon President Buhari,” out there at https://www.vanguardngr.com/2020/12/national-assembly-is-constitutionally-competent-to-summon-president-buhari/; see additional Barrister.Ng.com, December 10, 2020, “Don’t embarrass your self – Falana tells Buhari to honour NASS invitation” out there at https://www.barristerng.com/nass-is-empowererd-by-sections-88-and-89-of-the-constitution-dont-embarrass-yourself-falana-tells-buhari/
 CAP. C23 L.F.N. 2004.
 Vanguard, November 29, 2020, “Tears as 43 farmers killed by insurgents are buried in Borno” out there at https://www.vanguardngr.com/2020/11/breaking-tears-wailing-as-43-farmers-killed-by-insurgents-are-buried-in-borno/
 Vanguard, November 10, 2020, “Sack Service Chiefs now, North-East elders inform Buhari” out there at https://www.vanguardngr.com/2020/11/north-east-elders-ask-buhari-to-sack-service-chiefs/
 Vanguard, December 10, 2020, “Why Buhari can’t honour Reps’ summons – AGF, Malami” out there at https://www.vanguardngr.com/2020/12/why-buhari-cant-honour-reps-summons-agf-malami/
 Premium Occasions of Nigeria, December 10, 2020, “Sagay to Nationwide Meeting: BritishParliamentcan’t summon Queen”out there at https://www.premiumtimes.com.ng/2020/12/10/sagay-to-national-assembly-british-parliament-cant-summon-queen.html. Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN) talking in a chat with Every day Unbiased, mentioned the President is larger than each different particular person within the nation whom the Nationwide Meeting can not equate to Ministers and head of companies that they will summon.
 (2008) LPELR-3701 (CA), per Chima Centus Nweze, JCA(as he then was, now JSC)
 (1993) LPELR-3289 (SC)
 Agbaje v Fashola (2008) ALL FWLR (Pt. 443) 1302 @ 1337 B-C
 See J.O. Asein, Introduction to Nigerian Authorized System, Ababa Press Ltd, Surelere, Lagos, Nigeria, p. 48.
Vanguard, December 10, 2020, “Why we invited Buhari – Reps spokesman” out there at https://www.vanguardngr.com/2020/12/why-we-invited-buhari-reps-spokesperson/
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