Sanusi’s Case: Where does Jurisdiction lie?

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Suspended CBN Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

This morning, I had the pleasure of viewing a debate between 2 highly esteemed learned friends on social media. The subject being discussed was the recent ruling by a Federal High Court that it had no jurisdiction to entertain the case filed by suspended Central Bank Governor, Lamido Sanusi, challenging his suspension by the President. The court decided that the National Industrial Court was the proper forum, as the matter appeared more employer/employee than anything else, and ordered the case to be transferred accordingly.

Now, jurisdiction is perhaps the most fundamental issue in litigation. It goes to the heart and validity of any case. Anything done by a court in respect of a matter in connection to which it has no jurisdiction is a nullity. My first learned friend argued, as she had stated since the suit was initially filed, that only the NIC had jurisdiction. My second learned friend argued that certain provisions of the constitution nonetheless vested the FHC with jurisdiction. My first learned friend disagreed. So, what does the constitution say?

First of all, let us examine the section of the constitution advanced by my first learned friend in support of her argument; Section 254 C, which states –

254 C- (I)      Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 251, 257, 272 and anything contained in this Constitution and in addition to such other jurisdiction as may be conferred upon it by an Act of the National Assembly, the National Industrial Court shall have and exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of any other court in civil causes and matters-

(a)      relating to or connected with any labour, employment, trade unions, industrial relations and matters arising from workplace, the conditions of service, including health, safety, welfare of labour, employee, worker and matters incidental thereto or connected therewith;

Is Sanusi’s suit in connection with employment? On the face of it, yes. Additionally, I emphasised certain keywords in the referenced section, whose importance you will see in the section of the constitution advanced by my second learned friend; Section 251, which states –

251(1) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in this Constitution and in addition to such other jurisdiction as may be conferred upon it by an Act of the National Assembly, the Federal High Court shall have and exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of any other court in civil causes and matters-

(r) any action or proceeding for a declaration or injunction affecting the validity of any executive or administrative action or decision by the Federal Government or any of its agencies;

Is Sanusi seeking a declaration affecting the validity of an action or decision by the President/Federal Government? Yes, he is. So you see the conundrum here. Both 251 and 254 are literally notwithstanding each other and yet appear to have “exclusive” jurisdiction over the subject matter of this lawsuit.

I don’t envy judges. Additionally, I am confused and unable to pitch my tent with either of my learned friends. What do you think?

 

 

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Presidential Media Chat: The Language Problem

The presidential media chat of the 4th of May 2014 was another opportunity for Nigerians to hear their president “unscripted”. As with most  media chats he has hosted since becoming president, yesterday’s also provided canon fodder for those looking for gaffes to fuel the next internet meme.

In his previous media chats, President Jonathan provided such timeless soundbites as “Stock market business is not a jackpot business”, “Wikileaks is just like a beer parlour gossip”, and “Libya is just like someone is carrying a pot of water on his head and it just fell and broke, GBOA.” When asked to comment on allegations of his wife being investigated for money laundering after reportedly being apprehended with $13million dollars at an airport, his response was “Have you seen $13m in cash? Is it something one person can carry? Can only you carry it?”

Last night, his response to a question on the claims by ousted CBN governor that $50billion in oil proceeds was unaccounted for, was first of all “Oil money gets missing in every administration.” Then, after some wiggling and wriggling, he concluded that “$50billion cannot be missing and America will not know. America will know. It is their money. Where will you keep $50billion dollars?” And this was after he relayed Sanusi’s claim that the money was missing from over 18 months’ proceeds.

There is the argument to be made, with some merit, that these expressions are unbecoming of the president of any country, not only from a language perspective, but also from one of logic. If one person cannot carry $13m in cash, how about 10 people? When last did Patience Jonathan travel without an entourage? And if never, what suggests she couldn’t have arranged one on the said occasion? $50billion, over 18 months, shared between several people is not a lump sum block of money waiting to be seen and known by America.

However, it may be that the language problem exceeds the logic obstacle. A PhD having challenges with either language or logic is something of an oxymoron, but here we are. I do not intend this to be disparaging but it appears that meanings frequently get lost in translation  when the President transits from the language he thinks in to the one he is required to speak in. It is a problem many multilingual people with unequal levels of fluency would face.

For instance, and this is probably an indictment on me, when I’m speaking in Yoruba, I find myself thinking or processing the conversation in English. Thus, sometimes, I am halfway through a “transliteration” before I correct myself and use the proper Yoruba phrases. For many native Yoruba speakers, it is the reason why you’d hear someone say “What did you carry in the exam/race” when asking for the person’s position – Ki l’o gbe?

It may be the reason why the President’s wife, tearful, lamented,”There is God o! There is God o!”, for either ‘God is real’ or ‘God sees all this’.

It may be why the President said, last week, “I  have lived three quarters of my life on earth” (and the other quarter on Mars, it was joked) when he meant that he had expended 3 quarters of his life expectancy. Or why he said, last night, when defending but not really defending MEND, “MEND are not terrorists…I’m not defending MEND because I’m from the Niger Delta”, when a clearer version was probably “Do not think that because I’m from the Niger Delta I’m defending MEND.” I do not know. I’m guessing.

Besides problems with translations and transliterations however, there are also issues with  his unique choice of words. “Every administration has missing oil money”; “Terrorism in Nigeria is because, well you know, if you want to attack the Black race, and Nigeria is the centre of the Black race…”; “They have advised me, I won’t say from where, that I shouldn’t attack Sambisa Forest, so that the Boko Haram won’t melt into the general populace…”; “We are the current champions, we hold the trophy, we hold the shield – let APC inform us who is the challenger…” all do leave a lot to be desired.

Many also complained about the very basic level of his illustrations. For example, to explain rebasing, he used a farming allegory about taking account of more produce than was previously customary. I thought it was a functional example, really, but this brings me to the wider issue of the general levels of education, reasoning and argument in Nigeria. The President is our everyman. He is the people in your neighbourhood, the people that you meet when you’re walking down the street; the people that you meet each day. Millions of us cannot write letters or emails without several lines of bad grammar, many cannot hold a rational argument (or any argument for that matter) without quickly descending into insults and ad hominems, and millions more are functionally illiterate. L’etat, c’est nous. Le President, c’est nous aussi.

We are unlikely to have an Obama/Cameronesque leader, in my opinion, until we become like the people that Obama and Cameron lead – in business, in national conscience, in political engagement and, most of all, in learning and literacy.

I suspect that the majority of the Nigerian people would have found last night’s media chat satisfactory. Or, at the very worst, the President’s performance did not affect his approval rating by too much. For people that would harp on eloquence and inspiring speech though, it must be said that the number one contender from those challenging the PDP for its trophy is not much better. So, will use of language really count when we go to the polls in February?

 

5 Reasons Why GEJ Should NOT Resign

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In the wake of 2 bombings in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, the second taking place barely three weeks after the first, some people have resorted to calling for President Jonathan to resign or, alternatively, for the National Assembly to commence impeachment proceedings against him. I  disagree. While it is true that scandal continues to follow scandal, bombing follows bombing and national morale is undoubtedly very low, I do not think the President’s resignation is required. Here are my reasons.

 

1. THIS IS A DEMOCRACY. If we truly believe in democracy and the need to build enduring democratic institutions, then, barring gross misconduct, we need to accept that we are stuck with whoever we elect for the duration of time prescribed by the constitution  for them to be in office. We don’t get to chop and change midstream if the person we elected turns out not quite as we expected. This is the reason why we must pay greater attention and commit to playing a greater part in the electoral process first. The earliest that GEJ should go, is May 2015, when everyone crying #GEJOut can test the popularity of their movement at the polls.

 

2. WHO’S NEXT IN LINE? If the President resigns or is impeached, Vice-President Namadi Sambo takes over. If they’re both impeached, Senate President David “telephones-are-not-for-the-masses” Mark becomes President. Forgive me for not being too enthused about either of these prospects. At any rate, how would this change anything, with elections less than a year away?

 

3. GEJ IS NOT THE SERVICE CHIEFS. These guys need to get a whole lot more of the blame than people are willing to allocate to them. GEJ is Commander-In-Chief but he’s not the head of the intelligence gathering or counter-insurgency combat teams. He isn’t personally manning check-points or patrolling the terror hotspots. His Generals and their troops are. If anyone should be resigning (and that’s a big “IF”), the service chiefs are probably better candidates.

 

4. RESIGNATION WOULD BE A(NOTHER) VICTORY FOR BOKO HARAM. Would it not be the greatest tragedy, a huge smear on our collective nationhood, for Boko Haram to be able to beat its chest and declare that they bombed our president out of office? At the end of the day, until he’s served out his term, he is our president; our number one citizen. A king defends his castle. It would be a shame on my family if an unruly neighbour could unseat my father from our homestead. I’m sure the same applies to most of us.

 

5. RESIGNATION WOULD ONLY SERVE THE ETHNIC SUPREMACISTS. There are some who believe the President of Nigeria cannot and should not come from one of its smallest minorities. Nigeria belongs to all Nigerians. I will be politically correct and end my 5th point on that note.

 

Times are dark and dire, though, and we need our president to be bold, brave, inspirational and communicative. Not a word from him so far on the 200+ missing school girls, or the most recent bombing. Even if it’s hot air, we need to hear that he’s with us, see him shed an Obama tear or two and just generally show some emotional intelligence. Step up, President Jonathan.

The March RoundUp

 THE BIRTHDAY OF TEX

We start our roundup this month with the most awesome thing about March – one celebrated one’s birthday and commemorated the occasion with a limerick:

 

There once was a tweeter named Tex

His specialty was in the lex

On Ides minus 2

His birthday, woohoo!

So dig deep & pull out some cheques!

 

Sadly, no cheques yet. Maybe next year…

 

THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE

Nigeria’s controversial national conference started this month. After squabbling about religion, marginalisation, voting rules, respect for elders, the right to doze off without the press covering it AAAAAND receiving their first allowances of N1.4million each, it does not seem as if things will get moving for another week yet. Still, we celebrate some of the more famous delegates in the limericks below:

 

When Jimmy was head of the sports

His case shoulda gone to the courts

A great innovator

Showed a generator

When started, man, it teleports.

 

A cross-dressing fugitive man

Was impeached then forgiven and

Despite his disgrace

Will yet be the face

Of Bayelsa’s conferencing band

 

What really is two-thirds 19?

Is it 12 or is it 13?

Ol’Richie returns

To raise these concerns

When all the delegates convene

 

An ex-gov’ning husband of judge

In landmarking judicial sludge

Forever denied

The risk of being tried

An “elder statesman”, oh what fudge!

 

OOH LA LA!

After being dubbed a specialist in failure by the Special Punk, Jose Mourinho, Gooners all over  the world licked their chomps in anticipation of the showdown between Arsenal and Chelsea. Like the protagonist in a Kung-Fu movie, we all expected Arsene Wenger to “take his revenge”. The prospect received additional spice because it was Arsen’s 1000th game in charge of Arsenal. Things didn’t quite play out as expected. In fact, Arsenal shipped 6 goals without reply that day, prompting Professeur Wenger to attempt dodging the post-match press conference. The following limerick, as salve for our North London wounds…

There once was a French coach named Wenger

In-club for a thousand game bender

Got stuffed by José

Well, hip hip hooray

Our specialist, legend forever

 

ROAD SAFETY REFORM MEETS ROADBLOCK

A learned colleague recently obtained a judgement from the Federal High Court, restraining the Federal Road Safety Corps from impounding cars that do not have the new number plates. You can read the story here. Unconstitutional and illegal. Does this mean that cars with the new plates are improperly registered? We cannot say. Will the FRSC adhere to the judgement? We’ll just have to wait and see. Will you get a refund for the unconstitutional and illegal number plates on your car? This limerick is for you.

It turns out our old number plates

Now don’t have expiry dates

But no reimbursement

Will come from the gov’ment

To those who had paid the new rates

 

“KORO” LAMENTS MARGINALISATION IN LAGOS

Senator Ambassador Honourable Musiliu Obanikoro was in the press twice this month. Luckily, we feature both events in our roundup. In one, he is reported as lamenting the dearth of “shonz of de shoil”, indigenes of Lagos, in the management of the State’s affairs. Perhaps Lagosians should have their own sovereign conference to resolve this matter…

It’s something that makes Koro bitter

How Aliens in Lagos now litter

The armchairs of power

Indigenes, this hour

Must rise to defend this bullshitter

 

Koro reportedly also played a role in the “did-he-didn’t-he” that followed reports of the resignation of the newly appointed defence minister (Koro is his junior minister, his expertise in defending, uhm, his fellow Lagosians coming in very useful here).  The minister, retired General Gusau, quickly denied news of his resignation, but something very clearly happened between the ministers and the joint chiefs as news of their reconciliation was roundly received with relief. In honour of the purported resignation however, the following –

Nigeria’s joint chiefs weren’t inclined

To meet with Gusau, how unkind

The head of defence

In pure common-sense

He picked up his pen & resigned

 

NATIONAL IMMIGRATION SERVICE [SHAM] RECRUITMENT TRAGEDY

In a truly heart-wrenching sequence of events, the National Immigration Service charged 6 million applicants N1000 each, so that it could invite 500,000 thousand of them to a test at various stadiums around the country, intending to offer only about 4,000 of them employment.  There were stampedes in almost each stadium, 19 people died and hundreds more were injured. Now, first question is, how the hell do the NIS, who have 2 people stamping each passport at the airports, need 4,000 more staff? Then, where did the Minister for the Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, find the nerve to come on television and blame the multiple stampedes on the “impatience” of the applicants? Then, our president, Goodluck Jonathan, incomprehensibly decides to award 3 employment slots to the families of those who died and automatic employment for everyone injured in the stampede. Unsurprisingly, he nearly caused another stampede at the National Hospital, with people feigning injury and clamouring to be put on the automatic employment list… [*deep, deep, breaths*]

 

A stampede as stamping HQ

Recruited for stampers brand new

Like dreams they were crushed

As applicants rushed

To 19, we now say adieu

 

A stampede, as stamping HQ

Recruited, but all went askew

500k tried

And then 19 died

The polity heated, a-stew.

 

The head of our troubled interior

In garbage from oral posterior

Has asked us to blame

The dead & now lame

And ignore his motives, ulterior

 

The head of our country has tried

In satire personified

To placate the mob

By giving a job

To families of seekers that died

 

Have u been maimed in a stampede?

Or just maimed, but still full of need?

Then go to Abuja

The gov’ment will give ya

A job as their penance for greed

 

May the souls of the departed rest in peace. May those whose negligence led to their deaths not receive the customary golden parachute and silver handshake from the federal employer.

 

AND IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS…

President Goodluck Jonathan went to Europe and informed his audience that corruption in Nigeria is blown out of proportion; things aren’t as bad as we know them to be… Okay, then.

Our country is full of distortion

Especially talking corruption

We exaggerate

Discombobulate

And blow it all out of proportion

 

… and Russia is giving the rest of the world its middle finger in Ukraine.

There oncce was a country, ‪#Crimea

Whose borders’ll now disappear

Cos Vladimir Putin

Is sticking the boot in

Regardless of ‪#Ukraine‘s despair

 

As they say in Russia, dasvidaniya! Until the next roundup.