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Atiku Abubakar v. A.G Federation (2007) - CA


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CASE SUMMARY OF:
Atiku Abubakar v. A.G Federation (2007) - CA
by PaulPipAr

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PARTIES
APPELLANTS

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar

v.

RESPONDENTS

Attorney General Of The Federation;
Inspector General Of Police (IGP);
The National Assembly Of The Federal Republic Of Nigeria;
The President Of The Senate Of The Federal Republic Of Nigeria;
Speaker Of The House Of Representatives Of The Federal Republic Of Nigeria;
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)

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CITATION
(2007) 3 NWLR (Pt.1022) 601 C.A;
LPELR-3718 (CA);

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COURT
Court of Appeal

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LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
Umaru Abdullahi, PCA JCA

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Name: Branham Paul Chima.
Account No.: 2178756839.


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FACT
The President removed the Vice-president from office by declaring the Vice-president seat vacant because the Vice-president defected to Action Congress, a political party. Hence, the Vice-president had brought this suit before the Court of Appeal for determination.

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ISSUE
1. Whether having regard to the combined provisions of sections 135, 142(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, the plaintiff's term of office as Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria which commenced On 29th of May, 2003 still subsists.
2. Whether having regard to the provisions of Section 142, 143, 144 and 146 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 or any other provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or any law, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria can declare vacant the office of the plaintiff as Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
3. Whether having regard to the clear provisions of section 308 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria can withdraw, tamper or interfere with or violate the immunity conferred on the Plaintiff as the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by that section AND OR direct his arrest or prosecution."

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HOLDING
The wordings of section 306 of the constitution are clear, plain and unambiguous, therefore there should be no other procedure for removal of the plaintiff, the Vice President other than what is prescribed by the constitution. After the election and they were jointly declared elected upon one becoming President and the other Vice President the former loses his discretion to remove the latter at will. Clearly the plaintiffs right to peaceful assembly and association is untrammelled. The only infraction or derogation of this freedom is when it concerns a political party which is not recognized by the Independent National Electoral Commission. It is not the cases of any of the defendants that the Action Congress is a political party which is not recognized by the Independent National Electoral Commission. His right to associate is consequently guaranteed by the Constitution and he should not suffer any detriment for exercising this right.
The Court then held finally:
(1) It is hereby declared that the term of office of the Plaintiff as the Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which commenced from 29th of May 2003 still subsists and does not terminate until 29th of May, 2007.
(2) Secondly, it is further declared that the President has no power under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 or any other law to declare the office or seat of the plaintiff as Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria vacant.
(3) Thirdly, it is declared that the purported declaration by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of the office of the plaintiff as the Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria vacant is unconstitutional illegal, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.

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REFERENCED
S.142 CFRN 1999;
S.143 CFRN 1999;
S.146 CFRN 1999;
S.68(1)(g) and S.109(1)(g) CFRN 1999;
S.306(1)(2)(3) CFRN 1999;

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NOTABLE DICTA
Section 239 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 for the first time in our history of constitution making conferred the Court of Appeal with original jurisdiction to the exclusion of any other court to hear and determine any question as to whether a person has been validly elected to the office of President or Vice President; or the term of office of the President or Vice President has ceased or the office of President or Vice President is vacant. - per Umaru Abdullahi, Atiku v. A.G Federation (2007)

I am about to embark on the Interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution in an area which I respectfully hold to be Novel in the sense that never in the annual of this country had a court been invited to examine and determine that the second highest office in the realm is vacant. It behoves me to take the assignment with the highest sense of responsibility and caution in the Interest of the country and posterity. - per Umaru Abdullahi, Atiku v. A.G Federation (2007)

It is settled that in construing the provisions of a statute where the words are clear and unambiguous it is the words used that prevails and not what the judge says the provisions means unless where giving it literal interpretation will lead to absurdity. - per Umaru Abdullahi, Atiku v. A.G Federation (2007)

At that stage, respectfully the presidential candidate who nominates his associate or colleague or companion was entitled to drop his running mate at any stage before the election subject, of course, to the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act for any reason. After the election and they were jointly declared elected upon one becoming President and the other Vice President the former loses his discretion to remove the latter at will. His removal is now subject to other provisions of the constitution, such as section 143 or 144. - per Umaru Abdullahi, Atiku v. A.G Federation (2007)

The bond of companionship which compelled them, particularly the Vice Presidential candidate, to remain together during election loosen and they would swim to certain extent, separately. The interest tangible or intangible of the Vice President vests and could no longer be so easily wished away by either the President or the political party which sponsored them for the election. - per Umaru Abdullahi, Atiku v. A.G Federation (2007)

It is settled that this court is bound by the ratio decedendi of the Supreme Court and not its obiter dictum. - per Umaru Abdullahi, Atiku v. A.G Federation (2007)

A document such as Nigerian Constitution which is written cannot be interpreted on decision based on common law principles or decisions which are interpretation of statutes which themselves have not been demonstrated to be in pari materia with the provisions of the Constitution under consideration. - per Umaru Abdullahi, Atiku v. A.G Federation (2007)

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