➥ CASE SUMMARY OF:
Adamu v. Attorney General Of Borno State (CA/J 57/94, 16 April 1996)
by Branham Chima.
➥ SUBJECT MATTER
Substantial question of law;
Referral to the Supreme Court of Nigeria;
➥ CASE FACT/HISTORY
At the Gwoza High court of Borno State the respondents on this application were the plaintiffs and in their statement of claim dated 24/4/90, claimed against the present applicants (as the defendants) the relief, inter alia: ‘A declaration that the practice whereby the plaintiffs have to pay from their pockets for their children to be taught the Christian religion when the Gwoza Local Government Council pays Islamic teachers is unlawful and above all unconstitutional as such a practise (sic) is discriminatory against the plaintiff.’
Arguments were canvassed in support of and against the applicants motion on 27th May, 1992 and the lower court delivered its ruling in the matter on 10th December, 1992, a period of almost seven months after the arguments were received. The lower court considered whether the suit of the plaintiffs/respondents was justiciable in the light of section 15 of Chapter 2 of the 1979 Constitution of Nigeria and section 6(6) (c) of the same Constitution. The lower court held that the suit was not justiciable and went on to dismiss it. The plaintiffs/respondents were dissatisfied with the dismissal of their suit, They filed an appeal against the ruling of the lower court.
The briefs having been filed in this appeal in accordance with the applicable Rules of court, it would appear that the appeal was ripe for hearing. However, rather than press for the hearing of the appeal the respondents on the appeal have now brought this application praying for “(a) An order referring the questions contained in the schedule annexed hereto to the Supreme court for determination” In the schedule to the application the questions which the respondents/applicants want this courts to refer to the Supreme court for determination are: “(1) Whether by the provisions of Chapter II i.e. S.18 of the 1979 Constitution (as amended) the duty of the Government to direct its policy towards ensuring that there are equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels is an obligation or mere directives. (2) If it is an obligation on the government, is it justiciable and enforceable having regards to the express provisions of S.6(6)(c) of the 1979 Constitution.”
➥ ISSUE(S) & RESOLUTION(S)
I. Whether the case involves a substantial question of law for a referral to the Supreme Court?
RESOLUTION: IN RESPONDENT’S FAVOUR. (There is no substantial question of law for a referral to the Supreme Court)
[‘It is clear that the above Section 6(6) (c) excludes the jurisdiction of the court in the determination of whether or not any authority or person is in breach of the provisions under chapter II of the 1979 Constitution. Section 18 of the 1979 Constitution which I reproduced earlier falls under chapter II of the 1979 Constitution. It is therefore obvious that if the claim of the plaintiff/respondents and their appeal before this court are in pursuit of rights said to be derived under section 18 of the 1979 Constitution that the court has no jurisdiction in the matter. Mr. L. O. Sanyaolu for the respondent indeed conceded the point. The approach of Mr. Shani for the respondent completely posits that the respondent’s claims are in pursuit of rights derived from under section 18 of the 1979 Constitution. Mr. L.O. Sanyaolu argued that their claims fell under sections 35 and 39 of the 1979 Constitution. That may or may not be so. I cannot at this stage delve further into that aspect of the matter since the appeal is yet to be heard. It suffices for me to say that the said claims and appeal have their roots in rights founded on the provision of Section 18 of the 1979 Constitution, my answer would be that there is no substantial question of law involved warranting a reference to the Supreme court. This application is without merit. It is dismissed with N350.00 costs to the respondent.’]
➥ FURTHER DICTA:
Attorney General Of Borno State
➥ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
⦿ FOR THE APPELLANT/RESPONDENT
Mr. L.O. Sanyaolu.
⦿ FOR THE RESPONDENT/APPLICANT
Mr. G.A. Shani, D.P.P Borno State.
➥ MISCELLANEOUS POINTS
➥ REFERENCED (LEGISLATION)
Section 259(3) which reads: “(3) Where any question as to the interpretation or application of this Constitution arises in any proceedings in the Federal court of Appeal and the court is of opinion that the question involves a substantial question of law, the court may, and shall if any party to the proceedings so requests refer the question to the Supreme court which shall give its decision upon the question and give such directions to the Federal court of Appeal as it deems appropriate”.
Section 18 of Chapter 2 of the 1979 Constitution
Section 6(6)(c) of the 1979 Constitution
➥ REFERENCED (CASE)
➥ REFERENCED (OTHERS)