The demolition of a hotel in Rivers State, Prudent Hotel by Governor Nyesom Wike is unconstitutional, despotic, a gross abuse of power and a desecration of the Courts.
Governor Nyesom Wike is not permitted by any law to arrogate the powers of the court to himself. Furthermore, the governor is not empowered to amend the provisions of the Nigerian constitution.
The Rivers State government under the supervision of Governor Wike acted pursuant to an Executive Order to destroy the properties today. However, it admits of no controversy that the power to determine the guilt of an offence and to issue penalty accordingly lies only within the courts. This is the whole essence of Chapter 7 of the Nigerian Constitution which provides for the judicature. It is therefore unfortunate that Governor Nyesome Wike proceeded on this exercise of illegality without caution.
It is absolutely pathetic that under the Quarantine Act upon which the governor purportedly issued the executive order, there is no provision at all for the demolition of properties.
Section 5 of the Quarantine Act states:
“Any person contravening any of the regulations made under this Act shall be liable to a fine of N200 or to imprisonment for a term of six months or to both”.
In ONAH v. FRN (2017) LPELR-43535(CA), the Court established that:
“While the sentence of the Court must be in accordance with that prescribed by the statute creating the offence, a Court cannot impose a higher punishment than that prescribed for the offence”. This has been the position of the law in other cases such as; AGBITI v. THE NIGERIAN NAVY (2007) LPELR – 4893 (CA). In ALI v. FRN (2016) LPELR – 40472 (CA).
It must also be emphasised that the Executive Order of Governor Nyesom Wike is nothing but a mere subsidiary legislation. Even though a subsidiary legislation has the force of law, it cannot override the provisions of its enabling law. The enabling law to Governor Nyesom Wike’s Executive Order is the Quarantine Act, the Executive Order can therefore not impose a penalty outside of and higher than what the Quarantine Act prescribes.
In NJOKU & ORS. v. IHEANATU & ORS (2008) LPELR-3871(CA) the Court of Appeal held that:
“A subsidiary legislation or enactment is one that was subsequently made or enacted under and pursuant to the power conferred by the principal legislation or enactment. It derives its force and efficacy from the principal legislation to which it is therefore secondary and complimentary.”
It is wickedness to deprive people their means of livelihood, launch an attack on their fundamental human rights and cause them eternal agony by hiding under the cover of curtailing the spread of disease. Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State must stop this illegality and award adequate compensation to all those whose properties have been confiscated and destroyed.
Lawyer and National President of Revolutionary Lawyers’ Forum