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SUMMARY OF DOHERTY V. TAFAWA-BALEWA [1961]

SUMMARY OF DOHERTY V. TAFAWA-BALEWA [1961]

In the case Senator Chief T.A. Doherty v. Sir A. Tafawa-Balewa [1961] All N.L.R. 604., the first respondent, the Prime Minister of the Federation, in pursuant of The Commissions and Tribunals of Enquiry Act 1961 (1961, NO. 26) enacted by the Federal Parliament, appointed the other three respondent Commissioners to hold a Commission of Enquiry into certain activities of, among other persons, the plaintiffs, in relation to a bank licensed under the Banking Ordinance (Cap. 19) and doing business principally in the Western Region and the Federal Territory.

In these proceedings, the plaintiff challenged the authority of a tribunal (appointed) under the Commissions and Tribunals of Enquiry Act, 1961,102 to conduct an inquiry of his con-duct as managing director of the National Bank of Nigeria, which was under investigation.

Plaintiff claimed that the Act was ultra vires, in that Parliament had purported to grant greater rights to a tribunal constituted under the Act than the Constitution permitted, and that the Act further infringed on the rights guaranteed under (then) s. 20, 21, and 31 of the Constitution.

While finding the Act ultra vires with respect to the Federation as a whole, but not with respect to the Federal territory, the Court held that the Act did (not) oust the jurisdiction of the courts contrary to s. 21, 31, and 108. It also held that the Act, in permitting a tribunal to impose imprisonment or a fine enforceable by imprisonment to compel attendance of witnesses was in violation of s. 20.

In this case, the court exercised its power of judicial review by holding that S.3 (4) of the Commission and Tribunals of Inquiry Act was contrary to constitutional provisions and as a result, was null and void.

It was further held that: the sections which empowered the Commission of Inquiry to impose a sentence of fine or imprisonment were void being in contravention of section 20(1) of the 1960 Constitution which forbade a deprivation of personal liberty by any order save one made by a court of justice.
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