Malam Abba Kyari And The Deification After

Fellow Nigerians, it has been a week of mourning and jubilation in Nigeria, depending on which side of the divide you are, since the sudden, devastating and unbelievable departure to the eternal beyond of the former Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Malam Abba Kyari. The deluge of reactions to his death was neither surprising nor unexpected. What shocked and surprised me was the manner some never known friends of the departed suddenly swamped on all of us and began to write copious words of oleaginous hagiographies in honour of the sadly departed Malam Abba Kyari.

I was not surprised to read the fulsome praise ventilated by his Godfathers, President Muhammadu Buhari and Malam Mamman Daura. It was only to be expected. They trusted and believed in him and his capacity. On account of this they elevated him and his position as Chief of Staff to the President to almost a position of de facto Deputy President, if not President himself. They obviously had their reasons for doing so. He clearly did not disappoint either of them. He took the flak for the President from all flanks silently and effectively, as all proper acolytes and loyalists would do.

However, my surprise came from his old time friends. Some of them have been close personal friends of Kyari for more than 40 years. In a partiparticular case we heard the gushing story of how this Northerner, perceived as a Northern jingoist and irredentist had been best man to a Southern Christian, with a friendship that had endured for so long. Indeed, in their early days the bond of their friendship could be seen by them posing for a picture in the same snazzy pants. Another story of a relationship with the late Abba Kyari was equally compelling and was just as profusely fawning.

They had met at Cambridge University and both had worked together. Their friendship was such that whenever one needed to call in political favours he had gone to Abba Kyari for help. Abba Kyari had obliged unquestioningly regardless of whether this had to do with ameliorating the lot of people in the South or not. Those who raised their voices in defence of Abba Kyari and eulogised him were united and spoke with one voice. Here was a patriot, a philanthropist, aa pillar of the administration who had been much maligned when he was alive but who was in reality responsible of any direction or achievement that a government perceived as lacking purpose and capacity had been successful with. Perhaps no higher tribute could be paid to this late administrator than that of Malam Mamman Daura when he said this of Kyari “In point of intellect, he stood above all Ministers and Special Advisers in this government. But personally, he was modest, ever willing to learn, ever willing to help others.”.

There are those who would say that this pours scorn and derision on the Ministers and Special Advisers in this government seeing as the government is perceived as having been lacklustre to date. However, I choose to take the view that Malam Daura was simply extolling the virtues of this late scion of the Northern establishment, this noble, eminent and indefatigable elite of the Northern intelligentsia, Malam Abba Kyari and saying without any inhibitions and reservations that he was a cut above the rest and simply the best. I say this because there are within the ranks of the Ministers and Special Advisers in this government intelligent and capable hands, proven leaders of men who have accomplished and achieved so much in their chosen careers and in government. Some have even risen to the pinnacle of their professions. I believe that Malam Mamman Daura is gracious enough to recognise the worth and abilities of these men and women but was merely saying that Malam Kyari was a top dog.

The unexpected was how some critics, obviously angry and frustrated people, descended mercilessly on the dead man and tore him to shreds. As for me and my house, I will never partake in such wicked misadventures. My attitude has always been to let the dead Rest in Peace, no matter our disagreements in the past. Fortunately, I have no personal disagreements with Abba Kyari and any problems that I have with this government is with the government as a collective. Occasions will arise when an assessment of his person and his role in this government will arise, but the event of his passing can never be the appropriate time for such assessment or critical scrutiny. The immediate period and aftermath of his death cannot be the time when scurrilous, scandalous and offensive write-ups about the man and his position in the government of President Buhari will suddenly start to surface.

To me it smirks not only of crass insensitivity, but also great cowardice to read some of the gross character assassination and spate of irresponsible vitriol that has been directed at the eminent and irrepressible personage called Malam Abba Kyari. Whatever view you hold of him and his role in this Government for almost 5 years, one thing you can say is that he was a colossus who was larger than life in this Government. At this time, one can only thank him for his service to his Fatherland. Only history can tell and judge the quality of that service. On this note, please permit me to add my personal condolences to the overflow and pray for the repose of his soul.

I was not close to Malam Abba Kyari. You would have known for long if I was. It is not in my character to hide my friends when they are alive. I will lift them high for everyone to see. I may be abused and pillorised for this, but better to stand up for your friends when they are alive than to eulogise them to high heavens when they have gone. Those on earth will only be amused and the heavens will certainly pay no heed. Better to praise a man to his face than when he is on his back and six feet under. No one can kill you for showing off your friends. Indeed, they will envy those friends for having a staunch ally like you. The lesson in this for all of us is that no one knows when the end would come. We should always do what we can when we can.


The last time I remember seeing Abba Kyari was in Abeokuta at the celebrated wedding of then Governor Amosun’s daughter and Abike Dabiri’s son. Malam Abba Kyari was in company of then Minister of Interior, Lieutenant General Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau. I exchanged pleasantries with both of them and they were very warm to me despite my sometimes discomforting criticism of their government. Mr Kyari had a childlike innocence on his face that appeared disarming. So, I’m not doubting that he may have been a good man behind the facade of power-thirsty man. As I wrote when he took Ill, it cannot be his fault that he wielded so much power. The power was donated to him by his boss. The only problem was he could have managed his image better. The seemingly subjugation and total annihilation of the office of the Vice President could have been better handled with tact and diplomacy. The same result could have been assured without the sort of brinksmanship demonstrated by the Presidency. The vile hatred many had and still have for him in death partly stemmed from the perceived persecution of Professor Yemi Osinbajo. This may not even have been true, because Professor Osinbajo was magnanimous and generous in his tribute to this later stalwart of their administration.


What attracted me to Abba Kyari was his academic prowess. I have serious soft spot for cerebral people. For me, quality education usually makes the difference in human conduct. It is remarkable that he had already demonstrated his outstanding literary and academic qualities by rising to become the Editor of the redoubtable and impressive New Nigerian newspaper. It was only natural and inevitable that he would proceed to such distinguished and famous Universities such as Warwick and Cambridge. I expected that the leadership skills acquired from those premier Universities would make all the difference in his assignment in both the private and public sectors. He clearly distinguished himself on both accounts, rising to be Managing Director of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) and its Vice Chairman, as well as latterly, before his demise, Chief of Staff to the President of Nigeria. This sheer intelligence and craftsmanship would have been visible to keen watchers of the shenanigans in the State House, but unfortunately not to the teeming mass of Nigerians. Anyway, he has gone to rest peacefully and that is all that is important in the end as we must all make this supreme sacrifice and pay this final price.

In my view, what happened to Kyari was the lack of concerted and consistent public relations to highlight and showcase his efforts and achievements. I read in some of the tributes that he just couldn’t be bothered about what people felt or said about him. Wow, I wish I was that tolerant and kind about this. My policy is simple and straightforward. In this era of the internet, and in particular Google and social media platforms, practically every good, bad and ugly of your person are captured and recorded against you. I can’t afford such. I have found myself in certain situations at foreign airports where the internet and Google saved me from imminent disgrace and likely deportation back to my country of embarkation. No one should ever ignore issues that have to deal with public perception.


May God forgive us all our sins…


Dele Momodu’s Instagram Live is the New Rave in Town


If you’re not on Instagram, or any social media for that matter, at this time and age, you’re missing a lot. Instagram’s popularity comes from its simple strategy of coming up with your own television station on the go. You can even broadcast to the world free of charge once you have good internet connection.


Since this lockdown began, I have seized the opportunity offered by Instagram Tv to set up a wave-making television program that makes it possible for me to interview distinguished African personalities. Since last week, I have had the honour and privilege of interviewing The Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, the Vice President of Liberia, Dr Jewel Howard-Taylor, former Governor of Anambra State, Dr Peter Obi, famous actor, Richard Mofe Damijo, Fuji musician, King Wasiu Ayinde, Pastor Tobi Adegboyega of SPAC NATION London, Mrs Edwina Baaba Asoma-Banda, wife of Ghana’s foremost business icon, Alhaji Asoma Banda, Innocent Idibia the phenomenal artist also known as 2Baba, Real estate and affordable housing sensation Engineer Dr Becky Olubukola Esther, Professor Benedict Ayade, the Governor of Cross River State and Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation. Each of them brought individual flavour to the great delight of my viewers.

More interviews have been lined up including foreign and local dignitaries, governors past and present, politicians, entrepreneurs, businessmen, entertainers, artistes and just up and coming young people. Guests expected in the coming week include, Babatunde Raji Fashola, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, amongst others.

Written By

Dele Momodu

The Whole Truth and Nothing But The Truth!!- By Elnathan John

It is very easy to criticise others. Nigeria has made me rethink a lot. If you do ANY serious work at a high level in that country you will in some way be connected or befriend a politician or top government official. You cannot escape it. I always ask: can you critique them?

Often the answer is no. There is a reason why I do not see myself doing any work in Nigeria in the near future. However radical you are, there will be that one thing you cannot talk about, the one that butters your bread. Because we are petty as fuck and we demand blind loyalty. There are not many of us who can choose relative poverty and say, I will say it all. Not in Nigeria.

All the big critics you see in Nigeria, there is that one person/thing they will not talk about, the one whose house they visit, who gives them jobs or contracts, who assists them And if I was in Nigeria, there would probably be that one person for me. In the past three years, my biggest benefactor has been the city of Berlin. But I can be critical about Berlin and not have anyone arrest me or demolish my house, or threaten to rape my mother. In Nigeria?

In Nigeria, it was fellow writers who asked me to stop being so publicly critical. Fellow professionals. Because they said, it would ruin my chances. Because in Nigeria, that is all that matters. The hustle. Bread. Paper. So do not be shocked when your brave faves capitulate.There are many who do not see a place for themselves in Nigeria. Because they will not do this. For those who remain, it is tough. If you have a conscience it will be tested every fucking day in Nigeria. Unless you are independently wealthy and don’t need to work for money.

Even then you will need influential people for favours. Because Nigeria is a fucking jungle where you need connections not just for emergencies but also for basic things: school admission, documents stuck in bureaucracy, police illegally arresting your relative, driver’s license There is no shortcut for fixing Nigeria. Writers will not help. NGOs will not. “Civil Society” will not. Everyone has their own little hustle which they need to survive. Nigeria must change so that middle-class people don’t need politicians dick in their mouth to just survive.

And to add: there are foreigners I stopped talking to over their hypocritical support of Nigerian dictators. People who would not attend a gathering if say Boris Johnson was funding it, criticized Nigerian writers who refused to associate with a murderer who funds literature.

You come to Nigeria and say, oh come on it is just for literature, but you go back to your country and sign petitions against dictators arresting journalists in Turkey and other countries. But in Nigeria it is ok for a dictator to arrest people who tweet, bury Shiites etc. These ones are part of that middle class hustle, because their friends are. So they change the goal post and say, yeah, if an African murderer is supporting literature maybe it is not that bad. Because literacy beats burying people in mass graves.

Written By

Elnathan John

Pendulum: Lessons from My Presidential Bid of 2011

Fellow Nigerians, let me start by wishing you a Happy Easter. For Christians, this is a very special, significant and symbolic season, as well as one of the pillars of Christianity. Jesus Christ was crucified in order for our sins to be washed away and for us to have a place in the bosom of our Lord on Resurrection Day. Please, enjoy your COVID-19 vacation quietly at home with family and pray for good health and better days ahead. That is why I have decided to take you a bit away from these dreadful and dire times when we are all fearful of what could happen next, and ask us to focus on what we should now call, normal times past.

My epistle today is about my Presidential bid in 2011. You may be wondering why now. I will try to explain in a jiffy. I have no plans of contesting again, except barring a miracle, something happens which makes me to take the plunge again. I know there is no such thing in the foreseeable future, but from this COVID-19 pandemic, I am learning that we can never say never! However, I’m aware of those who plan to try their luck. Many of them are already making clandestine contacts and consultations. A brave few are more open and blatant about their aspirations.

I am not really concerned about the older generation. They seem able to hold their own and as the saying goes you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. However, I believe my epistle would be useful for the younger aspirants who may take many things for granted. The lessons I learnt were many and varied, but I will only pick a few and present them to you in easy to read and digest format. Unless you wish to contest for the fun of it, please read carefully before you become a serial contestant.

One. My first major error was to think Nigeria was America where Obama came out of the blues, took on the establishment with uncommon gusto, oratory, technology, charisma, carriage and comportment. Since the youths of every nation make up about 60 to 70 percent of the voting population and they grumble perpetually about the preponderance of geriatrics in politics, I was confident I could pull off a monumental upset in Nigeria’s political history. I was proved monumentally wrong. Nigeria is simply not ready for that kind of politics and will not be ready in 2023. It is a statement of fact! I say to the young guns out there, use technology, use your intelligence and charm, but do not forget to try and fit in as well. Some of the things still have to be done the old way. Not every voter is on social media. Indeed, the majority are not.

Two. My second assumption was as bad. I believed Nigerians truly detested the two or three leading parties at the time, PDP, ACN and CPC, and so would want a change of party and government. In actual fact, PDP was the only truly national party while the others were more regional in outlook and configuration. So, I headed to the Labour Party, determined to awaken the party from its slumber and make it a formidable fourth force. My permutation was simple. It should be easy to have all Nigerian workers under one banner and galvanise them into an impressive and intimidating workers’ party. In my abject naivety, I also presumed that the workers unions would help the Labour Party gather donations from members. I expected this to eliminate godfatherism and make members stakeholders in the polity. I was too Utopian. Except the two main political Parties, APC and PDP implode as it is anticipated they will do, there is no third force. You must start to align yourself now and if there is an implosion it will become obvious pretty soon which of the Parties will have some sort of upper hand.

Three. I premised my every move stubbornly on working for a brand-new Nigeria with the elimination of the so-called “old cargoes!” I had linked up with the British Labour Party and they were ready to help with policy making in education, infrastructure, public health, agriculture and so on. They were also going to introduce my party back home in Nigeria to relevant Labour movements globally. When I returned and briefed my party leadership, I realised I was moving too fast for them. The reality on ground was starkly different from what I envisaged. I was approaching them from a theoretical rather than practical basis. What concerned the leadership was how they would fit into the scheme of things as they presently stood and not whether they could be a part of a grand history making epoch. Our young aspiring youths must combine theory with practical. As they imagine creative and innovative ways to develop Nigeria into the top nation that it should be, they must also realise that their dreams will never be fulfilled until they achieve their objective. To do so, they must sacrifice some of their idealism.

Four. I assumed my party was going to field a Presidential candidate and that my popularity alone would carry me through. But politics, especially in Nigeria, is more than mere popularity, it is a game of big money, and Nigerian politicians have no mercy, they take no prisoners when it comes to demanding their pound of flesh. Poverty and ignorance have combined and conspired to rub people of their souls. Therefore, seek ye first the kingdom of money and everything else shall be added unto it! I forgot that no one was more popular, with a cult followership, than Major General Muhammadu Buhari, especially in the Northern parts of Nigeria, yet he could not win a Presidential election on his own, because he simply did not have the wherewithal and neither did his followers. He eventually won when the so-called “bad guys” supported him. Labour Party told me clearly, that they were not ready to field a Presidential candidate, after submitting my letter of intent, collecting my nomination form and, how can I forget, the mandatory nomination fees! This is another reason our young aspirants must join a mainstream Party. Once you are accepted as candidate, the funds will flow. Nowhere else will you have access to the funding that the big guns have and accordingly you will not be able to reach the whole country. Poof goes your hopes!

Five. In utter frustration and desolation, I left the Labour Party. I had to think of the next Party to join and this decision wasn’t an easy one to reach. My next move was predicated on principle and ideology. I wanted a Party without much blemish. I still wonder what got into me that I thought I could import angels from heaven to take over the affairs of Nigeria. In retrospect, I think it was discarding this same mindset that catapulted Buhari back to power. I decided to join the National Conscience Party, which had previously fielded its founder, the gadfly, Chief Abdul-Ganiyu Oyesola Fawehinmi as its candidate. After a keenly contested primary, I emerged winner and became the flag-bearer of my Party. A monumental mistake! I should have learnt from history. Gani was popular amongst the masses, even being conferred with the honour of Senior Advocate of the Masses (SAM), when his legal colleagues wouldn’t confer on him the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). He eventually became one before he died. However, they did not vote for him. He lost his deposit woefully and so did I. Most Politicians are not saints, and none can survive without being associated with a mix of angels and demons. That is politics and it is one of the sad realities of life. There will always be a quid pro quo!

Six. I was elated and started my campaigns in earnest. With my team, we decided to mobilise funds from our seemingly enthusiastic youths. I was close to so many wealthy Nigerians but most of them knew from experience that I stood no chance of winning no matter how noble my intentions were. They kept their wise counsel to themselves though! One day, I sent out about a thousand SMS to friends. Only two people responded and only one sent N200,000 to which I’m eternally grateful. A good friend now, Bob Olukoya, donated a vehicle without ever knowing me. If most Nigerian youths acted like him, the younger candidates would stand better chances. A few older and richer friends sent their bits and pieces in dribs and drabs, but nothing substantial enough to upturn the apple cart ever came my way. My ambition was thus dead on arrival. Everything pointed in the direction of a colossal failure, but I was determined to finish the race. Oh, let me not protect my media friends, they did not do well. Many of them were so hostile, so much so that I began to wonder what the problem was. Anyway. I had read somewhere that your biggest enemies sometimes are those living closest to you. So, I endured it all with equanimity and grace. Let me not bore you with all the shenanigans I faced. I must however set one record straight. The day of the election, I went out to cast my votes with many reporters in tow. I must give special thanks to both Channels Television (they ran a live feed from my home) and the Bisi Olatilo Show for their professionalism and support. My wife, her Mum, our Housekeeper and I left home together to the nearby school where we voted. There were two voting centres within the grounds. I voted at centre 23 while the others voted at 24. By evening a mainstream newspaper announced that my wife and those who accompanied me did not vote for me. This was plainly false. Just imagine such cheekiness! I say to our youths, beware of some friends. Assume you have few. In politics, it is the order of the day to make new friends.

I’m grateful to all the youths who supported me against all odds, morally and/or financially. They are too many to mention.

Seven. The major factors in Nigerian politics remain ethnicity, religion and loads of cash. My prediction based on experience is as follows: The core North will do everything to retain power perpetually. Forget about any phantom zoning formula. If either of the two main political parties field a Southern candidate, the other will counter with a Northern candidate. Then we shall witness the unimaginable happening at the speed of light. The North will resist a Southern Muslim candidate as it will not normally want a Northern Christian as President or Vice President. In my view, they will consider such as Haram. Chief Abiola was forced to pick a Northern Muslim as Vice Presidential candidate because the North would not agree to him picking a Northern Christian. It would be easier for the North to support a Southern Christian as President or Vice President, but I’m almost certain that President Buhari may not want anyone to dismantle his unabashed favouritism towards the North, especially the Fulani. I foresee a lot of realignment in order to frustrate the South. I suspect that the thoughtless cash being carelessly flung around the Northern parts at this time is nothing but a way of enticing and corrupting the unverifiable poor people of that region, and a preparation for full scale obliteration of any Southern candidate in 2023. Anyone who doubts these postulations should just wait and see. The young contender, especially one from the South must bear this in mind and start calculating how to surmount this mega problem.

Eight. Anyone with eyes on the villa must be ready by now. Nigeria is still largely a country run by a cabal, some kind of Mafia. The young challengers must be able to persuade about 70 percent of the key Mafioso members including former Heads of State, a few revered and well-positioned monarchs, some Governors, and members of the privilegentsia, those I call the economic cabal, led by Aliko Dangote, Mike Adenuga Jr, Tony Elumelu, Jim Ovia, Abdulsamad Rabiu, Femi Otedola, Theophilus Danjuma and others. Inevitably, there are also foreign interests, especially United Kingdom, United States of America and China. You may add Germany, Russia, Saudi Arabia and France. They too keenly follow what is going on in Nigeria, because we will always affect their interests, being the most populous country in Africa, with the richest human and natural resources.

What I have just served you is the shape of things to come. Enjoy your weekend.

Why the Conviction of Funke Akindele cannot stand in Law

INTRODUCTION: The trial and conviction of actress Funke Akindele and her husband is legally flawed. The fact that they pleaded guilty does not foreclose a discussion on the case because the flaws that I intend to highlight are constitutional and jurisdictional in nature. Issues of jurisdiction can be raised at any time.

I have read the following: The Charge Sheet filed by the office of the Attorney General of Lagos State against Funke and her husband; the Public Health Law Cap. P16 Vol. 9 Laws of Lagos State, 2015; and the Lagos State Infectious Disease (Emergency Prevention) Regulations 2020.

I submit that Funke Akindele and her husband (the defendants) were convicted for a non-existent offence. The charge sheet shows that the two defendants were arraigned on a one count charge for gathering with more than twenty persons contrary “to the social distancing directives of Mr. Governor of Lagos State.”

Funke Akindele and Husband JJC Skillz

DEFENDANTS CHARGED FOR AN OFFENCE THAT IS UNKNOWN TO LAW:
The charge sheet against the defendants also state that the said social distancing directive contravened by the defendants was issued by the Governor in line with the regulations made by the Governor pursuant to the Public Health Law. In other words, the defendants were not charged under the Quarantine Act.

They were charged under Section 58 of the Public Health Law of Lagos State. For clarity, Section 58 of the Public Health Law cited in the charge sheet provides as follows:

“For any contravention of the provisions of this Law or any Regulation made under this Law for which no other penalty is provided, the offender commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of One Hundred Thousand Naira (N100,000.00) or to any non-custodial sentence and if a corporate body, to a fine of Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N500,000.00).”

The defendants were convicted for gathering with more than twenty persons. The material question is: is it an offence under the Public Health Law or Infectious Disease Regulations to do so? There is no provision under the Public Health Law or Infectious Disease Regulations that makes gathering with more than twenty persons a criminal offence.

The Infectious Disease Regulations purport to give the Governor the power to issue the social distancing directive. The legal defect in the directive on gathering is that it cannot be the basis for criminal liability. A subsidiary legislation like the Infectious Disease (Emergency Prevention) Regulations 2020 derives its authority and validity from a substantive law (the principal legislation). The regulations cannot extend such authority.

Since the Quarantine Act and the Public Health Law of Lagos State specifically limit offences to contravention of regulations made by the governor, it is outright illegality to charge Funke Akindele and her husband for contravening a directive of the Governor (which is outside the regulations itself). See Din V. Attorney-General of the Federation (1988) 4 NWLR (Pt.87) 147.

An act or omission is only a crime if it is so prescribed in a written law. By virtue of Section 36 (12) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), every person is guaranteed the fundamental right not to be convicted unless the offence is defined and the penalty is prescribed in a written law. It states as follows:

“Subject as otherwise provided by this Constitution, a person shall not be convicted of a criminal offence unless that offence is defined and the penalty therefor is prescribed in a written law, and in this subsection, a written law refers to an Act of the National Assembly or a Law of a State, any subsidiary legislation or instrument under the provisions of a law.”

Let me reiterate that the Governor’s social distancing directive that restrict gathering in Lagos State which the defendants purportedly contravened is not an Act of the National Assembly, or a Law of the Lagos State House of Assembly, neither is it a subsidiary legislation or an instrument under the provisions of the law.

Therefore, by the authority of Section 36 (12) of the Constitution, and the Supreme Court decision in Aoko V. Fagbemi& Ors. (1961) 1 All NLR 400, the conviction of Funke Akindele and her husband is unconstitutional.

As I contended earlier, there is no provision in the Public Health Law of Lagos State or the Infectious Disease Regulations that makes a gathering of more than twenty persons or any gathering for that matter a criminal offence.

Regulation 8(1)(a) of the Infectious Disease (Emergency Prevention) Regulations 2020 cited in the charge sheet against the defendants provides thus:

8(1) “The Governor may –
a) restrict or prohibit the gathering of persons in the Local Area, such as conferences, meetings, festivals, private events, religious services, public visits, and such other events, save where the written approval of the Governor is obtained for such gathering.”
The above provision does not codify any offence. It only empowers the governor to restrict or prohibit gathering. The Infectious Disease Regulations 2020 should have expressly and specifically prescribed that gathering is restricted and prohibited in Lagos State before it can be relied upon to convict a violator in line with Section 36 (12) of the Constitution.

Since neither the Public Health Law of Lagos State nor the Infectious Disease Regulations has prescribed that gathering is an offence, the purported directive of Governor Sanwo-Olu remains an advisory.

The Court of Appeal in the case of Faith Okafar V. Governor of Lagos State &Anor. (2016) LPELR-41066 (CA) made it abundantly clear that the directive or order of a governor is not a law and that violation of same cannot result in criminal liability.

COMPETING REGULATIONS AND DOCTRINE OF COVERING THE FIELD:

The Infectious Disease Regulations was made by Governor Sanwo-Olu pursuant to Section 8 of the Quarantine Act Cap. Q2 LFN 2004 and the Public Health Law of Lagos State. However, Section 8 of the Quarantine Act only empowers the governor to make such regulations where the President fails to do so.

On 30th March, 2020, President Buhari issued the COVID-19 Regulations. In his regulations, the President made specific provisions restricting movement and imposing a lockdown in Lagos State. By the constitutional doctrine of covering the field, the regulations made by Governor Sanwo-Olu went into abeyance the moment the regulations made by President Buhari came into effect. Both cannot coexist.

The doctrine of covering the field was applied in the case of Attorney General of Ogun State V. Attorney General of the Federation (1982) 1-2 S.C. (Reprint) 7. where the Supreme Court per Fatayi-Williams, JSC, declared that the Public Order Act 1979 repealed all existing State laws on public order.

THE GOVERNOR HAS NO POWER TO MAKE REGULATIONS UNDER THE PUBLIC HEALTH LAW:

It should be further noted that under Section 53 of the Lagos State Public Health Law, the power to make regulations pursuant to that law is expressly vested in the Commissioner for Health; not in the governor. This raises more serious legal questions on the validity of the Infectious Disease Regulations issued by the governor.

REGULATIONS REQUIRES THE APPROVAL OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY.

Section 1 (1) of the Regulations Approval Law Chapter R4 Laws of Lagos State 2015 unequivocally provides as follows:


“Notwithstanding any provision to the contrary in any Law in the State, no regulation shall have effect unless laid before and approved by the House of Assembly.”

Section 3 of the Regulations Approval Law further mandate that “all regulations made pursuant to the provisions of any enactment in the State shall be published in the Official Gazette after its approval by the House of Assembly.”

The inescapable consequence of the above condition stipulated in Section 1 (1) of the Regulations Approval Law is that the Infectious Disease (Emergency Prevention) Regulations 2020 issued by Governor Sanwo-Olu to tackle coronavirus pandemic has not taken effect since it is yet to be laid before and approved by the Lagos State House of Assembly.

Since the charge against the defendants was brought under a regulation that has not been approved by the House of Assembly as required by law, the entire case – from the charge sheet, to arraignment, conviction and sentencing of Funke and her husband, is a nullity.

We cannot put something on nothing. This singular point is enough to nullify the conviction.

PUNISHMENT IMPOSED EXCEEDS THE LAW:

Apart from the above legal flaws, the punishment imposed on the defendants by the trial court is clearly overreaching and illegal. Section 58 of the Public Health Law of Lagos State under which Funke Akindele and her husband were convicted provides for only two forms of punishment. It provides as follows:

“For any contravention of the provisions of this Law or any Regulation made under this Law for which no other penalty is provided, the offender commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of One Hundred Thousand Naira (N100,000.00) or to any non-custodial sentence and if a corporate body, to a fine of Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N500,000.00).”

The trial court sentenced Funke Akindele and her husband to 14 days community service each, to start from 9.00am to 12 noon each day during which they are to sensitize the public on the COVID-19 pandemic in ten major areas of the state. They are also to pay a fine of N100, 000 each after which they would observe the period for isolation.

The implication of the expression “OR” as used in Section 58 of the Public Health Law is that the court can either impose a fine or a non-custodial sentence; the trial court cannot impose both.

The 14 days community service cum public enlightenment and the self-isolation imposed on Funke Akindele and her husband can be regarded as a non-custodial sentence. It was wrong for the trial court to additionally impose a fine of One Hundred Thousand Naira (N100, 000.00) on each of the defendants.

CONCLUSION:

The sum total of my submissions is that the conviction of Mrs. Funke Akindele and her husband cannot stand in law. They have the right to appeal against the judgment of the Magistrate Court to the High Court. I believe that the appellate courts will set aside the conviction.

Two possible options are available to the Lagos State Government if the restriction of movement is to be enforced through prosecution of offenders:

It is either the State Commissioner for Health issues fresh regulations pursuant to Public Health Law (this may be susceptible to the doctrine of covering the field) or the Attorney General of Lagos State invokes the COVID-19 Regulations made by President Buhari pursuant to the Quarantine Act to punish subsequent violators.

Notwithstanding the above, the judgment of the Magistrate Court remains binding until it is set aside on appeal.

Email: inibehe.effiong@gmail.com

For Whom the Gates Open Wide, By Wole Soyinka

These are depressing times – stemming from different factors of course – for a large sector of the nation. Insecurity, economy in a coma, a leadership in name only, having vanished into ether, permanently AWOL in a time of serial crisis. No wonder mimic and debased forms of leadership assertiveness rush in to fill the vacuum! The latest in the stakes of such power appropriation makes one wonder which is the more reactionary order: the so-called feudal institution, or the self-vaunting modernised governance, whose apex can bring the feudal to heel quite arbitrarily, without check and without seeming consequence. To rub pepper in the wound, the protagonist of that “progressive” order enjoys near-absolute immunity, thus, even when it has disgraced its status and violated its oath of office, caught literally with its pants down in open defecation, it can still pretend to act in the interest of progress, modernity and public well being. Such are the ironies raised by the purported dethronement of the Emir of Kano, Muhammed Sanusi, with one stroke of a pen!

Emir Sanusi 200million naira library

I was participant, albeit on the sidelines, when a similar scenario began to unfold in my own state, Ogun some years ago. The then governor, on account of an imagined slight by one of the monarchs in his domain, was actually poised – not virtually but physically –  to sign the dethronement and banishment order on that traditional ruler. His office was invaded by some of the panicked chiefs and stalwarts of Ogun State who rushed to ward off the impending order. One of them stopped at my home after the pacification session to narrate what had transpired, and how some of them had actually gone on their knees to plead with that governor to stay action. I was furious. I knew every detail of that affair, had listened to a recording of the speech that was supposed to have given this mighty offence. It was pure piffle!

“Why did you people plead with him? Don’t you realise you were making him feel a god? You should have let him carry on, then we would see what a cataclysm he had launched on the State!”

The man, an independent businessman of absolute integrity, and one of that governor’s intimate circle, smiled and said, “No, we couldn’t do that. We are his friends. We were pleading with him to save him from himself.”

What a pity Ganduje lacked friends who could have saved him from himself! Insofar as one can acknowledge certain valued elements in traditional institutions, the man he thinks he has humiliated has demonstrated that he is one of the greatest reformers even of the feudal order. That is beyond question, a position publicly manifested in both act and pronouncements. By contrast, Ganduje’s conduct, apart from the innate travesty of justice in this recent move, is on a par with the repudiated colonial order, one that out-feudalised feudalism itself, and is synonymous with authoritarianism of the crudest temper. The record shows, in this particular instance, that it is one that embodies modernised cronyism and alienated pomp and power – never mind the cosmetic gestures such as almajiri reformation. It has proved one of the worst examples of a system that enables even the least deserving to exercise arbitrary, unmerited authority that beggars even the despotism of the most feudalistic traditional arrangements.

Emir Sanusi was a one-man EFCC sanitisation squad in the banking system, taking on the powerful corrupters of that institution. Unblinking, he trod on the interests of powerful beneficiaries of a worm-infested sector and, in the process, created permanent enemies. By contrast, confidence in immunity has catapulted his tormentor to the ranks of the most notorious public faces of the disorder that Sanusi strove to eradicate. Obviously, vengeance lay in wait, and he was not unaware of it. The signs were omnipresent and Sanusi acknowledged their imminence. I know this for a fact. Apart from exchanges of some mutual associates – we held, not so long ago, a phone conversation during his visit to London, just after the shrinking of his domain signaled the commencement of a systematic attrition of his status. I assured him I would shortly fulfill my long-standing promise to pay him a visit. He sounded very much aware of the impending fall of the axe of vengefulness and power primitivism. I can testify that he remained totally unfazed.

Most important of all, and most pertinently for the nation, Sanusi was one of the early warning voices against religious extremism whose bitter fruits the nation is currently reaping. Those who wish to understand how deeply he had anticipated and explored the potential consequences of this menace should refer to his novelette, The Adulteress’ Diary, a work that exposes and satirises the hypocrisy of fundamentalist Islamic clericalism from the inside, that is, from the authoritative point of view of an Islamic scholar. This work did not endear him to hard core fundamentalist purveyors of social division, but even those opponents would have been wise to pay heed to his exposition, and its implicit warning. Then perhaps even if Boko Haram still remained inevitable, the nation would have been much better prepared for its onslaught, and those of allied malignancies like ISWAP.

Why, I am not certain, but I do have the feeling that the palace gates of the Kano emirate are not yet definitively slammed against this Islamic scholar, royal scion and seasoned economist. It is just a feeling. Closed and bared, or merely shut however, the doors of enlightened society remain wide open to Muhammad Sanusi. As for his current crowing Nemesis, a different kind of gates remain yawning to receive him when, as must, the days of governorship immunity finally come to an end. Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad. The list is long, there are comrades in impunity awaiting their day of reckoning. The files remain open, and the nation remains on the watch. The wheels of justice grind slowly, but sooner or later, they arrive.

Wole SOYINKA is  the first Black Nobel Laureate in Literature.