By Runsewe Aremu
The media was awashed with the story of “an unnamed Chief Superintendent of Police who declined Governor Sanwo-Olu’s order to remove Policemen from Magodo, what can be done to prevent such in the future? The Hope Classics spoke with some Legal Practitioners and activists. Excerpts:
The tussle over Magodo land took another turn when Gov. Jide Sanwo-Olu without success tried to vacate the police detachment dispatched by the Inspector-General of Police on advice of the Attorney-General of Federation to execute a judgement of the Supreme Court.
Though he claimed to be the Chief Security Officer of the State while issuing the order to the Chief Superintendent of Police who is the leader of the team, but unfortunately such is a non-existing power as the Commissioner of Police is the only constitutionally recognized Chief Security Officer of a State.
Section 215 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) is very clear as to lines of command in the Police and taking order directly from a governor is not one of them.
(1) There shall be –
(a) an Inspector-General of Police who, subject to section 216(2) of this Constitution shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Nigeria Police Council from among serving members of the Nigeria Police Force;
(b) a Commissioner of Police for each state of the Federation who shall be appointed by the Police Service Commission.
(2) The Nigeria Police Force shall be under the command of the Inspector-General of Police and contingents of the Nigeria Police Force stationed in a state shall, subject to the authority of the Inspector-General of Police, be under the command of the Commissioner of Police of that state.
(3) The President or such other Minister of the Government of the Federation as he may authorise in that behalf may give to the Inspector-General of Police such lawful directions with respect to the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order as he may consider necessary, and the Inspector-General of Police shall comply with those directions or cause them to be compiled with.
(4) Subject to the provisions of this section, the Governor of a state or such Commissioner of the Government state as he may authorise in that behalf, may give to the Commissioner of Police of that state such lawful directions with respect to the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order within the state as he may consider necessary, and the Commissioner of Police shall comply with those directions or cause them to be complied with:
Provided that before carrying out any such directions under the foregoing provisions of this subsection the Commissioner of Police may request that the matter be referred to the President or such minister of the Government of the Federation as may be authorised in that behalf by the President for his directions.
(5) The question whether any, and if so what, directions have been given under this section shall not be inquired into in any court.”
The Oath of Allegiance and Oath of Office of Governor of a State in the Seventh Schedule which the governor took pursuant to Section 185 are also clear. The governor under the allegiance solemnly swore/affirmed that he will preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.
Under the Oath of Office, he did also swore/affirmed same and also that he will discharge his duty faithfully and in accordance with the Constitution and law. He also swore/affirmed to exercise the authority vested in him not to impede or prejudice the authority lawfully vested in the President and do right to all manner of people, according to law.
Section 287.(1) saying the decisions of the Supreme Court shall be enforced in any part of the Federation by all authorities and persons is also clear.
That of “authority” and “decision” are also clear under Section 318.(1). Now, can it be said that the CSP actually disobeyed order of the governor?
Other angles are: does the Attorney-General of Federation as an authority not have anything to do with execution of a decision of the Supreme Court?
Does the Inspector-General of Police as an authority have powers to enforce a decision of the Supreme Court?
Does a State governor as an authority have powers to disobey the Constitution and decision of the Supreme Court?
Can stalling the execution of decision of the Supreme Court for the benefits of the judgement creditors be said to be doing right to all manners of people according to law?
Is preventing the execution of decision of the Supreme Court not unconstitutional and impeding or prejudicing the authority lawfully vested in the Supreme Court and President?
To enforce a judgement of the court, there is a procedure laid by the Sheriff and Civil Processes Act, the Enforcement of Judgement Rule, and Rules of the various courts.
So, the IGP or AGF cannot take laws into their hands to enforce any judgement without the procedure to implement Section 287 of the 1999 Constitution.
Secondly, the order of the Supreme Court is unambiguous. “allocate or reallocate” plots to the Judgement creditors does not confer power on the police to mark all the buildings within the estate for demolition. Houses that are not under litigation, which document or title was never tendered before the court.
How do you go to individual property, which has not been ordered for forfeiture for demolition?
Yes, LAGS should have implemented the decision of the Supreme Court by allocating or reallocating 459 plots to judgment creditors.
The Governor should not have gone personally to confront the CSP, I repeat. He belittled himself by so doing. A Yoruba proverb says , ” gereje l’ an ba agba” meaning an elder does not leave his seat to find out about what is happening outside.
They bring the case to him. Most of our so called Leaders KNOW NOTHING ABOUT MANAGEMENT AND REPORTING SYSTEMS.
(1) Many of them have NEVER SERVED in any organised systems before becoming what they are, Senators, Reps, Speakers EVEN Governors. And yet, we HAIL THEM AS LEADERS. (2) The Nigerian Police is under the direct command and control the IGP. Their personnel DO NOT REPORT to Governors. (3) The personnel of the Lagos State Government have for more than 3 DECADES persistently DISOBEYED Court Orders and Rulings ;even orders from the Supreme Court Haahaa! Haaaaaah!! Are they ABOVE the laws of the Land? What a LAWLESS BUNCH.
This is A GREAT LESSON that Justice will always prevail over injustice. Can anyone imagine the trauma that the Plaintiffs must have been subjected to, these years? Had they been unable TO FUND this case, what would have been the end for them? A lesson for us all, FEAR GOD. IN WHATEVER POSITION THAT YOU ARE, IT IS TEMPORARY. Some one, some day , will come, overrule you and your selfish actions and judgements that DO NOT HONOUR GOD. Many of these wicked people are RELIGIOUS people, Christians and Muslims. Let us FEAR GOD.
This is the state of the balance of powers in Nigeria, where elected officials have no power over security in their elected jurisdictions.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, has said that Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, should not have openly confronted a Chief Superintendent of Police at the Magodo Phase 2 Estate area of the state because of constitutional limitations.
According to the senior lawyer, the encounter between the governor and the police officer was a clarion call to the need for restructuring and state policing.
The Media had earlier reported that the CSP, Abimbola Oyewole, on Tuesday openly defied Sanwo-Olu’s order to vacate Magodo Phase 2 Estate.
The CSP told the governor in the presence of his cabinet that he and his armed colleagues were at the estate on the orders of the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba; as well as the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN).
For days, policemen besieged the estate in the company of suspected land grabbers and members of a family who had planned to demolish property in the choice estate to execute a Supreme Court judgment. The development caused commotion at the estate as landlords and tenants panic over their fate.
Addressing the CSP before journalists, Sanwo-Olu said, “Can you call your superiors in Abuja and tell them that the governor is here and as the Chief Security Officer, you don’t have any business being in my state right now and that I want you to disengage right now?”
But Oyewole replied, “I am here on the instruction of the Inspector General of Police through the AGF. I am too small or too low to call them. Your Excellency sir, you can call them sir.”
The governor was not well-advised and shouldn’t have made such public appeal to sentiments knowing that the police weren’t under his control.
The senior lawyer also said, “In a federation, the governor should have complete territorial control of the state where he has been elected to govern. The difference between the governor and the Chief Superintendent of Police is in the mandate of the people; the governor was elected as the representative of the people whereas the police officer is part of the servant and people who serve the collective aspirations of our people.
To that extent, it should not have been openly possible for us to have a situation where in the public glare the police defy the chief public officer of the state.
I believe that the governor was not well-advised to embark on open confrontation with the police knowing the constitutional limitations that hinder his directives or operational instructions to police officers who are not directly under him.
There should have been caution on both sides; there ought not to have been an open confrontation between the governor and the police because these are issues we have known since 1999 that the constitution has more or less stripped the governors of any powers in terms of control of security. So, to make such appeals to sentiments was not totally commended on the part of his excellency, with all due respect.
But having said that, it addresses the need for us to rejig the constitution and work out a proper Federation. I do not support in any case that the governor should be helpless in containing crisis in a state.
The 1999 Constitution tells a lie against the people of Nigeria when it claims that we are running a Federation but strips the Governor of a State of powers over security.
In the final analysis, only restructuring can save this nation. Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable.
The media was awashed with the story of “an unnamed Chief Superintendent of Police who declined Governor Sanwo-Olu’s order to remove Policemen from Magodo”
A lot of commentators have said his refusal was a slap on the Governor but they never gave time to think that what happened was a triumph of our constitution.
I will explain.
In 1984 when the Military Government of Lagos state demolished the property of Shangisha Landlord Association without compensating them instead of resulting to self help the association went to court.
The Lagos state High Court ruled against Lagos state and said the association was entitled to right of first choice allocation of 549 plots. Instead of Lagos state to accept the verdict of the court in good faith they decided to appeal the judgment. As at this time there were less than 100 houses compared with 6,000 houses today.
Since Lagos state has gone on appeal, was it not right for them to halt allocation or reserve 549 plots in case they fail at the court?
Lagos state lost the appeal in 1992. Should Lagos State at this point not have called for a negotiation? The interesting thing is that at the court of Appeal the Justice that gave the lead judgment against Lagos State is an indigene of Lagos state Justice Oguntade.
Lagos State will not accept the ruling so they went to Supreme Court and in year 2012 Lagos state failed at the Supreme Court the court of final decision.
Since the association will require Lagos High Court to issue a writ of execution. Lagos state frustrated the issuance of same. The Association petitioned the Chief Justice of the Nigeria who then sent a query to the then Chief Judge Atilade who then issued a writ of execution. Again Lagos state will still not accept defeat they went ahead to cause division amongst the association and aided a fall out faction to get a Lagos State Judge loyal to Lagos state Justice Adebiyi to set aside a writ of execution granted by the Chief Judge.
Another petition was written against Justice Adebiyi but on the day she was to attend to her petition at NJC in Abuja through the intervention of Mr. Olanipekun SAN lawyer to the association then the petition was withdrawn for obvious reason.
After all said and done In 2019 the association decided to write a fresh petition to the Attorney General of the Federation to give a legal advice. The AGF contacted the Supreme Court to find out if the judgment was indeed true after finding out the authenticity of the judgment. The AGF wrote to the Lagos State Attorney General Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo on why the association have not been allocate 549 plots. Lagos state responded by saying they have not been able to identify those they were to give the land to. The AGF got back to the association with response of Lagos State. The association made themselves available to Lagos state.
The AGF after waiting for 18months for Lagos state to meet with the association towards resolving the issue to no avail issued a legal advice that the association is entitled to 549 plots in Magodo and the Police should protect them towards peaceful allocation of their Land.
On the 16th of November, 2021. The Inspector General of Police wrote a letter to the Governor informing him on police intention to come and levy execution. The IGP waited for more than a month and there was no response from the Governor. So on the 21st of December, 2021 the policemen moved into Magodo.
On the 22nd of December, 2021 the Governor called the IGP to stop the execution and remove his men. IGP accepted to stop the execution but the men will still remain until the Governor resolve the issue.
After 2 weeks there was no call for meeting with the association, the Magodo Resident Association suspecting there may be continuation of the execution came out on the 4th of January, 2022 to protest that led to the Governor coming to Magodo.
Now the Governor is in Magodo. Issues arising.
1. Was the Governor right in telling the CSP to call the IGP? No because the Governor had direct communication link with IGP and AGF.
2. Can a CSP call the IGP? No by command structure a junior officer on battlefield cannot call his boss to change instruction it will take the same senior officer to call the junior officer to step down.
Secondly, it’s instructive to hear the Governor telling the CSP that if he should place the call to both the IGP and the AGF it will be tougher for the CSP.
Interestingly, the Governor came back from the call and his countenance changed and affirmed that the association were his subjects. The same association 2 weeks ago they have threatened to prosecute for criminal charges.
However, it has taken this action and 38 years for Lagos state to call this meeting with the association. Most of the members of the association died during this time and were not able to witness this day but to those alive and well to witness this day its a triumph to our constitution, triumph to the rule of law and triumph to human rights that when all have failed in the state we can call on federal to intervene.
It is important to state that the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation belongs to the Executive arm of the Government. The Supreme Court belongs to the Judiciary.
The Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice takes exception to the Southwest Governors unjustifiable insinuation of impunity against the office of the Attorney General over execution of a judgement of the Supreme Court.
The role of the executive is, in this respect, simply to aide the maintenance of law and order in due compliance with rule of law arising from giving effect to the judgement of the apex court of the land.
Let it be known that the issue is regarding a Supreme Court Judgement that was delivered in 2012 long before the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in office at a time when Malami was not a Minister.
The judgement was a reaffirmation of the judgements of Court of Appeal and High Court delivered on 31st December, 1993.
The Press Release came to us as a surprise. We see it as a vituperation of ulterior motives of some political class who derived pleasure in dragging the name of Malami in the mud to achieve some sinister objectives.
It is widely reported in the papers that the Lagos state Governor was quoted to have said “I’ve spoken extensively with the Inspector-General of Police and the Honourable Attorney-General, and we’ve resolved all the issues”.
The Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, would appreciate if the coalition of the Governors will help to unravel the circumstances preventing the Lagos State Government from enforcing the court order despite several attempts from 2012- 2015 and so-called settlement initiative started in 2016.
Some of the cardinal pillars of democratic Government are the doctrine of separation of powers and obedience to the rule of law inclusive of Court Orders.
It is a common knowledge that execution of the judgement and orders of Courts of competent jurisdiction, and the Court of last resort in the circumstances remains a cardinal component of the rule of law and the office of the Attorney General wonders how maintenance of the law and orders in the course of execution of the judgement of the supreme can be adjudged by imagination of the governors to be unruly.
We want to restate that sanctity of the rule of law is not a matter of Choice.
It must be clearly and overtly expressed that what transmitted on Tuesday, 4th of January, 2022 between the Executive Governor of Lagos state, His Excellency, Babajide Sanwo – Olu and the Police which was led by Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) Abimbola Oyewole was a show of shame which reinforced the fact that we are not actually practicing democracy. Notably, it also reflects the nonchalant attitude of leaders who are supposed to be trailblazers or role models in terms of their total obedience to the law of the land but rather they see themselves as superiors, untouchable and above the law of the nation.
Today, my encounter with a police officer who forcefully slapped a suspect at a station in my presence, I called him aside to tell him straight to his face that what he just did was unconstitutional and stylishly, he tendered his apology and gave me reasons why he should do that, also, I made him see why he is not expected to do that, in simpliciter, it is jungle justice which is an act of impunity.
Should we do that? I leave you to your opinion.
However, Lord Acton rightly said that the proverbial saying ‘power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely’ conveys the opinion that, as a person’s power increases, their moral sense diminishes. Leaders in Nigeria have little or no respect for the law of the land, they have a flagrant disobedience to the law of the land, this is totally unacceptable and condemnable in its entirety. If we must move forward, there is the need for us to respect the law of the land as being supreme. Any time, that there is misuse of power, therefore, abuse will be inevitable. What happened between his excellency and the Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) was a tussle of power which has political undertone, virtually everything in our polity is politicised, this is very wrong.
Constitutionally speaking, the 1999 constitution stripped the governors of control over security, security belongs to the exclusive legislative list in part 11 of the 1999 constitution, this connotes that only the Federal government has exclusive control over it. Let us take a cursory look at this constitution – Section 215 of the Nigerian Constitution 1999.
The public or masses will start disrespecting the “constituted authority”.
It reveals ignorance of the law by people who are expected to be custodians of the law.
In the final analysis, only restructuring can save this nation. Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable, A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, added.
The way forward is that we must refuse to allow any leader to trample upon the constitution, all of us must respect the laws as being supreme;
Mechanisms and structures that are unbeatable by any agent of government, must be fashioned out;
People of incorruptible character should be brought or voted into political offices and not touts;
Lastly, our religion leaders should live above board. In the recent days, my account was double credited, about forty thousand was paid twice into my account, when I discovered, I swiftly returned the amount, one of the concerned persons prayed for me and I told him that Nigeria will move forward if we all live by what we profess or stand for.