Justice Joshua Olorunda (Lord Chancellor)
Prior to the withdrawal of the eligibility suit instituted by Awotiwon Ibiyemi with the Judicial Council of Great Ife Students' Union against the Secretary General of the SU, Oketooto Oluwaseun a.k.a Hon. Seun, another case between Odey John Benjamin, Ehinmosan Olukolade Oyewole vs. Omotayo Akande was decided. The judgement of the later has been said by many to have prompted the withdrawal of the suit filed by Ibiyemi against Hon. Seun. Here is a copy of the lead judgement delivered by the Lord Chancellor of the Judicial Council (JC) of the Great Ife Students' Union, Justice Joshua Olorunda on 6th August, 2015 at the Security room of the Students' Union Building (SUB).
PER- JUSTICE JOSHUA OLORUNDA (LORD CHANCELLOR)
2014/2015 ACADEMIC SESSION.
ORIGINATING SUMMONS (Upon AWOTIWON IBIYEMI’s APPLICATION)
ODEY JOHN BENJAMIN
EHINMOSAN OLUKOLADE OYEWOLE
(ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION)
1. WHETHER OR NOT ELECTORAL GUIDELINES OF THE STUDENT UNION ELETORAL COMMISION ARE CONSTITIONALY VALID.
The electoral commission has its validity from section 60 of the sacrosanct constitution. As such, it assures the position of the Independent National Electoral Commission of Nigeria. Thus, it has the right to administer good elections which are its express constitutional duties. Without doubt no body of such can make a mid-wifery of a good election without setting guidelines. However, in as much as the Electoral commission has implied rights to a very reasonable extent under section 60(4), its moves must not contravene any express provision of the sacrosanct constitution of Great Ife. Now, in the mainstream world, for elections there are three principal laws cum directives that guide every election;
1) The 1999 constitution 2) The act of parliament (laws for state) and 3) Electoral guidelines .The constitution is superior to the electoral act; the latter is superior to any guideline.
Also, even in the mainstream world there are threshold issues that an act of parliament must contravene, if it has been settled in constitution, and by extension, a guideline must met dabble into such, as issues of eligibility, viz; the age, educational requirement and citizenship. As such, the 1999 constitution, for example cannot have any other law, be it The electoral Act of Nigeria or any other, dabbling into express provisions relatory to an election, such as Eligibility which has three settled criteria for the office of the presidency for example, viz; that he is a citizen of Nigeria, that he is 40 year and that he has the school certificate any other provision in the Act must not go down to eligibility, except other things.
However, the Act can make other provisions and also reiterate the provisions of the constitution. The guidelines are therefore majorly and in fact only for administrative purposes and nothing more.
(Relying on the authority in the case of AG ABIA AND 35 ORS Vs. AG FEDERATION)
As such, the respondent’s argument that the election petition guidelines are valid to the extent of their constituency with the constitution would hold, for me. They can only hold if they go pari-pasu with the constitution .For example Great Ife sacrosanct constitution lays down express rule of eligibility in section 62; that the candidate must be a registered member of the union and that he has spent at least an academic session.
2. WHETHER OR NOT THE ELECTORAL GUIDELINES AND RULES ARE BINDING ON STUDENTS.
The same principles apply to the second issues for determination. As such, the guideline are valid if they are not inconsistent with any express provision of the constitution, whether impliedly or directly, as submitted by the respondent.
3. THE THIRD ISSUE FOR DETERMINATION (WHETHER OR NOT THE CONGRESS CAN HEAR STRICTLY JUDICIAL MATTERS.
Can the congress entertain strictly judicial matters? I think it is absurd and arbitrary to say the congress, can entertain strictly judicial matters. Apart from the fact that the constitutional provisions for the congress contained in section 6 only gives it legislative power, such legislative powers can even only be exercised if any matter is beyond the CEC, that is by implication there must have been deliberations, debates, counter arguments and as such as a deadlock to the issue on ground, or if any such has happened in SRC too, then had been deadlocked. Then a congress had been called, this is why only the president or the speaker can call a congress, and not the chief justice- the Lord Chancellor. It would be arbitrary, against principle of natural justice, if the Lord Chancellor and the judiciary as a whole are stripped of their constitutional powers. It not only on OAU campus that we have cases of tradition which have come to hold. And the fact that any action does not mean it is a law. The jurisdiction of the judiciary cuts across many sections of the sacrosanct constitution.
4. THE THIRD ISSUE FOR DETERMINATION (WHETHER OR NOT THE DECISION OF THE CONGRESS IS FINAL)
The questions we should ask here include, on what issues is the decision of the congress final? Was the congress called by he who has the power to call it? Has due process of the law being followed before the congress was called? Was the matter beyond either the CEC or SRC?
The second phase of question to be asked are; the principles of natural justice being observed, viz; Nemo judex incausasua, and Audi alterem partem. That is, ’’you can’t be a judge in your own case” and “hear both sides to case before you decide.’’ Apart from the fact that these principles are sacrosanct and non-negligible any where in the world, they are even the two legs on which equity and fairness stands on. Would you say the decision of a legislative arm is final on judicial matters? In fact, the other legislative arm being the SRC can only reverse the decision of the court if it has satisfied the constitutional provisions in to-to (that is on issues if proven official corruption.)
On whether the assurance that the people present were all students of Great Ife or not, as submitted by the petitioners. Well, there is a prima facie belief that the people present are all student of Great Ife until the contrary is proved. This is obiter to judgment anyway. The main must not be forgotten, that the decision of the congress is found only if the above question of procedure, constitutional jurisdiction and rule of laws have been followed. Else, it would mean that the congress would be allowed to pass decision buttering on sensitive issues like budget or judicial issues like rape, or saying the congress should nullify a constitutional provision, or the constitution itself and many other issues so forth. As such, the petitioners’ submission that the decision of the congress is not final would hold.
I urge all Great Ife students to represent the sacrosanct constitution, bonding on you as student and at least within the confines on OAU and sometimes even beyond. I urge all students of OAU to respect the creator (that is the constitution) than the creations (that is any committee, commission, council or body of people). For people who think the judiciary is quite slow on this. I think you may have a point on the maxim ‘’justice delayed is justice denied’’ but you may not have a point under the maxim ‘’justice rushed is justice crushed’’.
BEFORE HIS LORDSHIPS
Justice Joshua (Lord Chancellor) JSU
Justice Jumoke (Registrar) JSU
Justice Khalid (Member) JSU
Justice Sammy H (Member) JSU
Justice Shegun Ray (Member) JSU
Justice Laitan (Member) JSU
Justice Dayo (Member) JTU