Constitutionalism & Fundamental Human Rights - Nigeria

The legality or the otherwise of the etsu nupe’s directives on alhaji bello-masaba’s celebrated matrimony.

1. The sovereignty of a state irrespective of its abundant ethnic clusters or miscellany of its culture, credo and religion is founded on the single and supreme edificial law of the land; in this case, the ground norm of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the 1999 Constitution.

2. The very opening rider of the extant and sacred Constitution states that the constitution is the plinth upon which this great nation stands.

3. It is the unifying force, anticipation and succor for both the elites and the common man of which every accomplishment of its subject must be in conformity with; anything short of this or in other words beyond this, amount to subversion, insurgence and betrayal of our collective national charter.

4. It is on this basis, one posit that the quantum of the legitimacy of the conclusion reached on the fascinating concern of the celebrated matrimony of Alhaji Muhammadu Bello-Masaba in Bida, Niger State to over 86 wives is contradictory and vehemently against the provisions the Constitution.

5. Etsu Nupe no doubt is a respected statesman, undisputable leader of his people and a distinguished paramount ruler of the sophisticated Nupe people, who has make use of his revered office and experience as peacemaker and first class administrator to ensure harmonious co-habitation and peaceful existence in his kingdom and Nigeria as a whole.

6. However, one is ensnared to query the constitutionality of the recent directive of the Etsu’s five-man Committee headed by Alhaji Omar Edota on Alhaji Muhammadu Bello-Masaba to the effect that Bello-Masaba should compulsorily divorce 82 of his wives or face a sanction of banishment!

7. In as much as it is fundamentally attractive to question the raison d'être of the setting up of the committee, the subsequently most imperative question should be: against which backdrop was such committee set up? Is our revered Etsu acting on the premise of a traditional ruler or on the platform of Islam? Is his kingdom, a sovereign state on its own or it’s still under the administration of the Federal Republic of Nigeria? And/or is the tenets, law and practice of Islam not subjected to the inconsistency assessment of our Constitution as provided in Section 1 (3) of the Constitution?

8. Irrespective of the podium from which conclusions are drawn and verdict passed, such will still remain invalid so long as it’s against the provisions of the Constitution. SEE- Knight Frank & Rutley (Nig.) Vs. A.G. Kano State (1998) 7 NWLR (Pt. 556) 1 @ 19. F

9. In the chronicle of the Nation Nigeria, all forms of interest of religion whether Islam, Christianity or traditional worship are all subjected to the supremacy of the Constitution. Again for avoidance of doubt, provisions of Section 1 of our constitution clearly states that:

“1. (1) This Constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on the authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
(2) The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall not be governed, nor shall any persons or group of persons take control of the Government of Nigeria or any part thereof, except in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.
(3) If any other law is inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution, this Constitution shall prevail, and that other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.

10. There is no gainsaying that the constitution is supreme and superlative and shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It consequently means that all authorizes including religious and traditional values falls under the control of the constitution. It is however illogical, mortifying for a citizen of this country to be subjected or punished under an unauthorized committee and perverted directives.

11. Nevertheless, Sections 34, 37, 38 and 42 of the Constitution spells out some of the rights of a citizen of this nation. These are part of specie of rights which can be said to be intrinsic in every human being. They are absolute and undeniable rights that cannot be taken away from any person without disrespect to justice.

12. And as Honourable Justice Kayode Eso puts it in the case of RANSOME-KUTI VS. A-G FEDERATION (1985) 5 NWLR (PT 10) at 211 that “ It is the primary condition to a civilized existence”

13. In a critical analysis of the position of the Estu Nupe in collaboration with the pronouncement of the committee setup, it will not be out of place to affirm emphatically that the Fundamental Human Rights of Alhaji Mahammadu Bello Masaba is been infringed on.

14. The committee in the context of our Constitution has over reached its bound and has no legal right to pass such directive on Alhaji Mahammadu Bello Masaba. Such directive is a threat to the very reality of the citizenship of Alhaji Mahammadu Bello Masaba and others like him that forms the bulk of Nigeria citizenry and what else? A threat to a civilized society.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kayode Ajulo, Esq., Snr.
A meticulous young Barrister and Solicitor of Supreme Court of Nigeria with special interest and modest but extensive experience in Litigation, Commercial/Corporate Law & Practice, Debt Recovery, Real Estate Management, General Administration and Dispute and Conflict Management. A Member of Nigerian Institute of Management and currently a candidate of Doctor of Philosophy in Law. Articulate in communication of complex ideas to others having been a public commentator in lacal and international media his experience also include teaching Law related courses. His professional experiences include serving as Federal Attorney/ State Counsel in the Chambers of the Attorney General of the Federation, Nigeria, Counsel in Afe Babalola Chambers, Head of Chambers of the Law Firm of Dr. Tunji Abayomi and presently Principal Partner, Kayode Ajulo & Co. Castle Of Law, Abuja.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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