💎 CASE SUMMARY OF:
The National Assembly v. The President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria & Ors (2003) – CA
– Veto power;
– Passage of bill after veto;
1. The National Assembly
1. The President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria
2. The Attorney-General of The Federation
3. Independent National Electoral Commission
 9 NWLR (Pt.824)104;
Court of Appeal
💎 LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
George Adesola Oguntade, J.C.A.
💎 LAWYERS WHO ADVOCATED
* FOR THE APPELLANT
* FOR THE RESPONDENT
The 3rd respondent who was the plaintiff at the trial court filed an originating summons for the Court to quash the Electoral Act 2002 stating that it was not well passed by the house after the President’s veto; and also for the declaration of section 15 of the Electoral Act 2002 as unconstitutional stating that it encroached on the power vested on the Independent National Electoral Commission by the 1999 Constitution to fix dates for elections to the offices of the President, Governor of each State of the Federation, National Assembly and House of Assembly of each State of the Federation.
The plaintiff annexed to the affidavit in support of the originating summons copies of the votes and proceedings of the House of Representatives and the Senate for the 25th and 26th September, 2002, as exhibits C and D respectively. Now, exhibit D, the votes and proceedings of the Senate shows that the Senate voted by 48 Ayes and 3 Noes to override the President’s Veto of the Electoral Bill. There were four abstentions. The exhibit reveals that the Senate was acting pursuant to Section 58(5) of the 1999 Constitution. In all, 55 Senators participated in the voting on the motion to override the President’s veto. Exhibit D, the votes and proceedings of the House of Representatives shows that the House voted by 191 Ayes and 13 Noes to override the President’s veto of the Electoral Bill. The House of Representatives just as the Senate expressed, that it was acting as it did pursuant to Section 58(5) of the 1999 Constitution. In all, 204 members of the House of Representatives participated on the motion to override the President’s veto.
The trial Court held,
i. That the Senate and the House of Representatives was each properly constituted when it exercised its power under S.58(5) of the 1999 Constitution to override the President’s veto on the Electoral Bill, 2002.
ii. That the Electoral Act, 2002, was validly passed by each house of the National Assembly.
iii. And, that the said S.15 of the Electoral Act is unconstitutional.
The present Appellant has appealed before this Court (Court of Appeal) and raised the issue that the trial Court having held that the Electoral Act was properly passed cannot then say s. 15 is unconstitutional.
Also, the 1st and 2nd respondents have filed a cross-appeal.
1. Whether the learned trial Federal High Court Judge, was right in setting aside Section 15 of the Electoral Act, 2002, having regards to the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and his finding that the Electoral Act, was validly passed by each house of the National Assembly.
1. Whether the Electoral Act, 2002, was validly passed by the National Assembly by its overriding the veto of the President by two thirds majority of the two chambers of the National Assembly present as against two third of all the members and by passing the Bill vide a process of motion?
2. Is Section 15 of the Electoral Act, 2002, not unconstitutional and void for inconsistency with Sections 76, 116, 132 and 178 of the Constitution?
💎 HOLDING & RATIO DECIDENDI
1. The Court of Appeal struck out issue 1 (the sole issue) for being a misconception of the lower court’s decision. It stated, “The lower Court pronounced it unconstitutional and set it aside. Strangely however, all the grounds of appeal formulated by the appellant were to the effect that the lower Court after holding that the section was constitutional still went on to set it aside.”; “The appeal by the appellant must be struck out since all the grounds were built on facts that did not arise from the judgment of the lower Court.”
1. The first issue in the cross appeal was judged in favour of the cross-appellant.
i. “However, what the appellant did was merely to pass a “motion for veto override”. Clearly, this was not in consonance with Section 58(5). It is apparent that the purpose of Section 58(5) was to impose on the appellant the duty to subject a bill to the scrutiny of another passage process so that it may be manifest that the grey areas of the bill have been looked into a second time.”
ii. “Giving Section 58(5) its ordinary natural meaning, two-thirds majority of each House can only mean two-third of the membership of each of the Senate and the House of Representatives. It cannot mean anything else. The section has no relationship with the ordinary quorum of each House. It does not employ a language referable to a proportion of the membership of each House. It is two-thirds of each of the whole of the Senate and the House of Representatives. In order to override the President’s veto, there must be at least 73 members in the Senate and at least 240 members in the House of Representatives. But as I observed earlier, when the Senate made a motion of veto override on the bill on 25/9/2002, there were only 55 Senators present. In the House of Representatives on 26/9/2002, when a motion of veto override was made there was only 204 members. Clearly therefore, the appellant was not properly constituted when the Bill was “passed” into law on 25/9/2002 and 26/9/2002. The appellant was also not following the Section 58(5) of the Constitution when instead of passing the Bill again, it merely made a motion called “motion of veto override”. The lower Court was therefore in error to have taken the position that what was needed to pass the bill was the ordinary working quorum of the appellant and that the “motion of veto override” was in order.”
iii. “Although, the procedure adopted by the appellant in passing the Electoral Law, 2002, was not strictly in compliance with Section 58(5) of the 1999 Constitution, it was not the case of the 3rd respondent before the lower Court that it had any complaints or misgivings about other provisions of the Law other than its Section 15. The said Law is now being used for the 2003 National Elections. To declare it unconstitutional and strike down at this stage may lead to a widespread disruption of national life, while not conferring any advantage on the 3rd respondent. It seems to me satisfactory enough that the 3rd respondent has obtained a vindication for its rights and in the process enabled this Court to express its views as to the procedure to be followed, when overriding a presidential veto in the law-making process. It is not in my view necessary to strike down the law. The offending Section 15 has been struck out. In the exercise of the power of this Court’s discretion in the grant of a declaration, I decline to grant reliefs 4 and 5 in the 3rd respondent’s claim even If I agree that the appeal by 1st and 2nd respondents/cross-appellants has merit.”
iv. “I make no order on reliefs following the success of the cross-appeal. This is essentially a suit to enable the Country discover the proper approach in the law-making process. It has been rewarding for all concerned bringing the suit. I therefore, make no order as to costs.”
2. The 2nd issue in the cross appeal was quashed for the same reason of the striking down of the issue in the main appeal.
Sections 48 and 49 of the 1999 Constitution;
Sections 54(1) and 58;
Section 74(c) of the Evidence Act;
Section 56 of Constitution Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999;
💎 SOME PROVISIONS
💎 NOTABLE DICTA
⦿ GRANT OF DECLARATION IS DISCRETIONARY
The grant of a declaration is discretionary and it should be exercised with great caution. – Oguntade, J.C.A. National Assembly v. President of Federal Republic of Nigeria (2003)
⦿ ISSUES FROM INCOMPETENT GROUNDS OF APPEAL ARE INCOMPETENT
Obviously, if the grounds of appeal are themselves incompetent, any issues which are framed upon incompetent grounds of appeal must themselves be incompetent. – ODUYEMI, J.C.A. National Assembly v. President of Federal Republic of Nigeria (2003)
⦿ EXCEPT ABSURDITY WILL RESULT, ORDINARY MEANING SHOULD BE GIVEN
In construing Section 58(5) of the 1999 Constitution, I bear in mind that a statute should be given its ordinary natural grammatical meaning unless an absurdity will result thereby. – Oguntade, J.C.A. National Assembly v. President of Federal Republic of Nigeria (2003)
⦿ TO OVERRIDE PRESIDENT’S VETO, BILL MUST GO THROUGH SAME PASSING PROCESS AGAIN
Under Section 58(5) of the Constitution, in order to override the veto of the 1st respondent, each of the Houses of National Assembly has to pass the bill again. The language used by Section 58(5) is “and the bill is again passed by each house.” This means that the bill has to go through the same processes it had previously gone through, when it was first passed. That is the clear import of ‘the bill is again passed’. It means a repetition of the earlier process. – Oguntade, J.C.A. National Assembly v. President of Federal Republic of Nigeria (2003)
⦿ TO VETO PRESIDENT’S VETO, THERE SHOULD BE FRESH CONSIDERATION OF THE BILL
It was common ground that the 1st respondent communicated to the appellant the reasons for his inability to give assent to the bill. This imposes on the appellant the necessity to painstakingly go through the bill a second time before passing it into law as required by the provisions of Section 58(5). What needed to be done was a fresh consideration of the bill and not just to affirm what was earlier done by passing a motion. – Oguntade, J.C.A. National Assembly v. President of Federal Republic of Nigeria (2003)
⦿ PARTY CHALLENGING THE STATUTE SHOULD SHOW THAT HE HAS SUFFERED AN INJURY
I bear in mind that a party challenging the constitutionality of a statute has the duty to show that he has sustained an injury or is in danger of sustaining one in addition to showing that the statute is invalid. – Oguntade, J.C.A. National Assembly v. President of Federal Republic of Nigeria (2003)