Learned Senior Advocates of Nigeria Charles Uwensuyi-Edosomwan, SAN and Osaro Eghobamien, SAN participated as speakers in a Webinar interview with BD Legal Business’ Chuba Agbu to shed some legal perspective on some of the political happenings in Edo State.
In answering the question of whether the Edo State governor was encroaching too much into legislative affairs, and if this constituted a breach of the doctrine of separation of powers, Osaro Eghobamien said the following:
“The executive normally pronounces the beginning of the house in the legislative. What this means is that there is an official announcement when it is time for the house to be inaugurated. What seems like an incursion is that when the governor made that pronouncement, and the clerk then invited members of the house to be inaugurated, only seven showed up. The governor is currently embroiled in litigation pertaining to that, and that is why it looks like there is an interference. To give further background, when seven came, it meant that fifteen were absent. There is a precondition that must be satisfied before you are inaugurated; that condition is that you must take an oath, so the assumption is that only seven took the oath of allegiance and appeared and out of that twenty-four, fifteen contested the process on the grounds that they did not obtain a notice, that matter is still pending in court.”
The learned senior advocate provided more context on the court process and how an absence of swift resolution would lead to further degeneration.
He went on to identify the two issues that the court pronounced upon; the first being the National Assembly’s takeover of the State Assembly. The learned silk informed us that the court pronounced that under current circumstances the National Assembly could not take over the State Assembly affairs.
The second issue, he stated, was that the Port Harcourt court that adjudicated on the matter found that the State Governor, Godwin Obaseki had made his official declaration to start the house and he was not required to make another one. What that meant was that there was legitimacy to the conduct of what seven members did in the house.
Charles Edosomwan offered an astute theoretical perspective citing that the National Assembly did not ordinarily have the right to take over the powers of the State House of assembly and this was evident if one applied the principles of separation of powers to federalism.
He also elucidated on the concept of fused competence in the context of National and State House of Assembly hierarchy and how this gave the National Assembly, in the appropriate circumstances, the power to supersede legislation made by the State House of Assembly.
Former Commissioner, Environment and Sustainability, Edo State, Omoua Oni-Okpaku also participated and offered lengthy perspective on the topic. A noteworthy opinion was when she stated that irrespective of the semantics of the law if it didn’t favour the majority then there was something fundamentally wrong.
The webinar occurred on the 2nd and 4th of September 2020 and is part of BD Legal Business’ #DigitalConversations series. Visit the BusinessDay YouTube channel to watch the full interviews.