Wike not answerable to N’Assembly — Falana, Adegboruwa


Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Femi Falana and Ebun-Olu
Adegboruwa, have waded into the dispute between the Minister of the Federal
Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, and the Senator representing the FCT, Ireti


The senior lawyers noted that the FCT minister in terms of
execution of duties was not answerable to Kingibe or the National Assembly.


The FCT lawmaker had warned Wike to desist from working
without the supervision of the National Assembly.


Kingibe also noted that the FCT minister does not have
executive powers but must operate within the constitutional frameworks of the
country’s legislative arm.


Kingibe said, “You also have to remember that the minister
of the FCT – I’m not sure we have had a former governor as a minister, I think
we have had one. Some [former] governors may think that as an FCT minister, the
minister does not have executive powers. He works hand-in-hand with the
National Assembly and the president to administer the FCT.”


However, interpreting the constitution, Falana stated that
Kingibe was wrong to have said that the minister was answerable to the National
Assembly in the discharge of his duties.


He said, “The distinguished senator is wrong. The power of
the executive with respect to the FCT lies with the President. Making laws and
passing laws for the FCT are the business of the National Assembly.


“Section 299(a) of the constitution provides: The provisions
of this constitution shall apply to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as if
it were one of the states of the Federation; and accordingly


“(a) all the legislative powers, the executive powers and
the judicial powers vested in the House of Assembly, the governor of a state
and in the courts of a state shall, respectively, vest in the National
Assembly, the President of the Federation and in the courts which by virtue of
the foregoing provisions are courts established for the Federal Capital
Territory, Abuja.”


He further explained that since the executive powers of the
FCT are vested in the President who then delegates them to the minister as he
pleases, the minister can act in the capacity of the President who is the
governor of the FCT.


Falana said, “The executive powers of the FCT are vested in
the President, the legislative powers are vested in the National Assembly,
while the judicial powers are vested in the High Court of the Federal Capital


“To that extent, it is very wrong to say that since there is
no governor in the FCT, the executive powers are vested in the National
Assembly; those powers are vested in the President.


“So, whenever the president appoints a minister, the
minister is performing in the powers delegated to him or her by the President.”


He added, “If you are dissatisfied with the decision taken
by anyone in the FCT, you go to the FCT High Court.”


Corroborating his colleague, Adegboruwa said that the
minister was answerable to the President and not the National Assembly as
posited by Kingibe.


The SAN explained, “The ministers are all appointed by the
President, and they owe their duties solely to the President who has the power
to remove them or have their decisions overturned.


“Among the ministers, only the Attorney General has specific
responsibilities that are recognised by law as stated in Section 174 of the
1999 Constitution.”


Adegboruwa further explained, “The rest of the ministers
have no specific statutory duties unless assigned to them by the President.


“So, to that extent, the ministers of the FCT, like other
ministers, report to the President for his day-to-day activities. He is not
responsible to the National Assembly or members of the legislature except with
respect to defending the expenditure or budgeted estimate or whenever he is
summoned to appear before the National Assembly when they are carrying out
their oversight functions or they are passing a law that requires some
investigations or contributions.”


The senior lawyer further clarified that other than that,
the minister is not answerable to the National Assembly for his day-to-day
execution of functions as long as it aligns constitutionally and it’s in line
with the mandate of the President that appointed him.


He added, “As it pertains to the FCT generally, I think that
it is important to recognise that it is a no man’s land by the law of our land,
although the constitution also recognises the natives and the indigenous


“By designation, anybody could be appointed to hold any
position in the FCT. Just like in the case of the FCT, you’d see that all FCT
High Court judges are occupied by people all over the country.

“So, it is not correct to say that appointment into the FCT
must be limited to the indigenes, though I believe they should be carried
along. But that cannot be a validation to discredit the minister.”


Meanwhile, the senior lawyers kicked against the demolition
of structures stating that proper procedures must be followed for such
activities to be carried out.


Falana said that neither the President, the minister nor the
governor of a state had the power to demolish the property of any citizen in
Nigeria without following the proper process.


Falana said, “The President, governor, or minister cannot
decide that a house has been built without approved plans and then proceed to
demolish without a court order.”


He stated that in each of the states and the FCT, the
relevant law is the Physical Planning Act, under that the relevant law is the
Urban and Regional Planning law and under these laws, there is a provision for
demolishing a house or property.


He expressed, “Without complying with such a law, nobody has
the power to demolish a house. In fact, under any of such laws, there is
usually an agency set up to investigate whether somebody has violated the urban
and regional planning law.

“If you’re dissatisfied with the decision of that agency,
there is an appellate committee. In other words, if a demolition notice is
pasted on my building or structure, I have the right to disagree with you.


“So, an agency in the Ministry of Physical Planning would
examine my complaint and make a decision and if I also disagree with that
decision, there is an appellate committee to review the decision of the


Falana added, “In the case of Lagos State, if you’re
dissatisfied with the decision of the appellate committee, there is a provision
to go to the High Court which shall within a specified period of time decide
the case.


“Just as a private person cannot demolish someone else’s
property, the government cannot also demolish the property of a citizen.


“So, you cannot come out to say these structures were not on
the building plan. Who are you? Because you’re a governor or a minister? So,
you have now constituted yourself as the complaint witness.


“Since the government operates under the Rule of Law, the
government is under a duty to conduct its duties under the relevant laws.”


He explained that if the government was going to demolish
any building, there was a procedure, and the government could not just wake up
and surround a person’s house with bulldozers and raze the building to the
ground without a court order.


“That is the position of the law,” he posited.


Falana further added that a lot of demolitions in Nigeria
were politically motivated.


He said, “Most of the demolishment is targeted at the poor.
The rich are often allowed to regularise illegal and defective structures, but
it is the poor whose properties are demolished.


“Most times, except for political reasons, you don’t
demolish the house of the rich.”


Similarly, Adegboruwa said that it was wrong for the
government to destroy the properties of its citizens except for violation of
environmental laws.


Adegboruwa said, “On the issue of the demolition, I think it
is generally wrong for the government to demolish properties of citizens except
for challenges such as environmental issues such as flooding.


“If people build houses without complying with relevant
approval, they can be invited to regularise it. They are Nigerians and we are
in an economy that is challenging.


“I’m generally opposed to government demolishing people’s
houses. There should always be an option of correcting whatever was done


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