Analysing the Workability of Nigerian Federalism:A Thorough Dissection of Judicial Precedents.
By Jimoh AbdulGaniy ADISA
Before the delve into the depth of this topic,it is quite necessary to throw light on the meaning of Federalism,Nigerian Federalism, vis-a-vis the origin of federalism as far as Nigeria is concerned.Thereafter, the deployment of five judicial decisions/precedents in analysising the working of Nigerian Federalism will come into being. Without much ado, a deep dive into the next subtopic will serves as a justification to the intendment of the topic.
In this aspect,it is very pertinent to clarify some concepts highlighted in the given topic,they are:Judicial decision, Federalism,and Nigerian Federalism.
What is Judicial decision?Judicial decision is a process which is followed by the judges to take the decision.The learned authors of Oxford Lexicon of Law(Sixth edition) succintly describes it as a judgement or decision of a court, normally record in a law report, used as an authority for reaching the same decision in subsequent case. In another sense,J.O Asein in his book titled: ‘Introduction to Nigerian Legal System’describes it as that body of principles and rules of law which,over the years,have been formulated or pronounced upon by the court as governing specific legal situations.The learned author of the Nigerian Legal Method—ESE MALEMI— elucidates it as a law based on the principle of stare decisis, which means,the practice of standing by, following,or applying earlier decisions, provided that the case at hand is similar to the earlier case or cases sought to be followed.In a similar fashion,it is otherwise known as Case Law, Judicial Precedent,and Judge-made Laws.
Meaning of Federalism:It is derived from the Latin word “foedus” meaning covenant. It is a political concept in which a group of members are bound together by covenant with a governing representative head. The term is also used to describe a system of the government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and constitutional political units (like states or provinces).
The classic definition of a Federal Government, as provided by Sir Kenneth Wheare, is a system of government in which sovereignty is divided between the central and state governments. Wheare then went on to add that in this form of government, central and regional governments are co-ordinate in the sense that neither level of government is subordinate to the other in legal authority. He then concluded that in this system of government, each level of government should be limited to its own sphere and, within that sphere, should be independent of the other.
Federal system of government often arises from the desire of the peoples to form a union without necessarily losing their identities. Federalism would, therefore, seems to provide an attractive system of government especially in the context of ethnic pluralism found in many African states. Federalism is generally accepted by many as necessary for managing the country’s ethnic diversity as reflected in the adage “unity in diversity”.
Federalism in principle implies the construction of a system where consensus is reached between current demands of the union and the territorial diversity within an emerging society, by the creation of a single political system within which central and provincial governments are assigned coordinated authority in a manner defining both the legal or political limits of equality or subordinate functions.
Babalawe (1998) explained federalism thus: a federal state is one in which there is an: Explicit and constitutional demarcation of powers and functions among national and sub-national units. Moreover, the powers and responsibilities are distributed in such a manner as to protect the existence of authority of both levels of polity each of which is independent within its own sphere… Federalism refers to the doctrine which advocates and promotes the form of organization of a state in which power is dispersed or decentralized by contract as a means of safeguarding local identities and individual liberties.
Federalism is the structure of government according to the levels of government ranging from the federal government, state government,and finally the local government.Federalism represents a unique form of governmental arrangement. This is because, it involves organisation of the state in such manner as to promote unity while at the same time preserving existing diversities within an overarching national entity.
Federalism is a system meant to integrate people in a society who are diverse ethnically, culturally, geographically and even religiously. It therefore becomes imperative that once a government is in place, it must endeavour to adequately and equitably distribute powers,functions and resources among these diverse groups.Federalism is the bedrock of democratic edifice for a country of Nigeria’s size and bewildering diversities.Akindele and Olaopa, 2002 opines Federalism as a system in which the power to govern is shared between national state governments, creating what is often called a federation.
According to Black’s Law Dictionary, federalism is a league or compact between two or more states to become united under one central government.K.C. Wheare, a foremost writer on this concept stated as follows: ‘By the federal principle I mean the method of dividing power so that general and regional governments are each within a sphere co-ordinate and independent.In another vein,Kehinde M.Mowoe describes it in his book christened—Constitutional Law in Nigeria— as the division of power between a national government,and other regional or state government,and sometimes local governments.Such power may however be shared in various ways,sometimes with a stronger centre,or with a weaker center which is often referred to as con-federalism.
In another sense,Johnson Ugoji Anyaele in his book named:’Comprehensive Government’ put it as one in which governmental powers that exist in the country are shared between central government that represents the whole country and government of component regions or states so that each government is legally and constitutionally independent and autonomous.It does not mean the powers are shared equally between the central government and government of component regions or states.
There are areas or authorities reserved exclusively for the central government in the constitution known as the exclusive lists.Such matters in the exclusive list include; foreign affairs, defence, currency, immigration and emigration,etc.Both governments legislate on the concurrent list of subjects which include; education, agriculture, collection of taxes, electric power, industry,etc.However, where states law contradict that of the Federal law on this list,the Federal law prevails.Other subjects on residual lists that are not constitution belong to the state government or the component regions.Countries that practice federalism adopt federal constitution.Examples of countries that adopt federalism include:U.S.A., Nigeria,Federal Republic of Germany,Brazil, Switzerland, Australia, Yugoslavia,India among others.
ORIGIN OF NIGERIAN FEDERALISM
Nigeria federalism could be tracked down to 1914 when the Northern and Southern protectorates were almagamated or joined together,with unitary form of administration.Since this period,the Nigerian governmental powers started to be shared between the central government headed by the Governor-General and the governments of Northern and Southern protectorates headed by Lieutenant Governors.So,with the existence and recognition of the two near independent part of Northern and Southern territories,the adminstrative system of Nigeria wore a somehow outlook of a federation.
Concerning the forgoing statement,the further division of the country into three regions in 1946 by the then Governor of Nigeria, Sir Authur Richards under the Richards constitutional arrangements gave more support to the emergence of Nigeria with a federal system of government.The 1951 Machperson constitution gave further concrete support to the establishment of a federal system of government in Nigeria.Apart from the division of Nigeria into three regions of Northern, Western and Eastern regions,the constitution appointed Lieutenant Governors to head these regions and granted legislative powers to the legislative and executive councils that were established.
The 1954 Lyttleton constitution removed the final shades of unitary state from Nigeria by establishing a true federal state.That constitution took effect from October 1,1954, shared powers between the central and regional governments.The constitution went further to re-organize the judiciary in order to be in line with the federal structure of the country.In anticipation of the constitutional conflicts that might arise between the central and regional governments in the implementation of the federal system of government,a supreme court was established to handle such conflicts.Except in 1966 when Aguiyi Ironsi’s adminstration attempted to revert Nigeria to a unitary state, federalism has been in Nigeria with minor modifications and changes up to this period.
Moving further, it is necessary to give a brief recall of constitutional conferences that led to the establishment of federalism in Nigeria,and they are the London Constitutional Conference of 1953 and the Lagos Conference of 1954.
NIGERIAN FEDERALISM: CONCEPTUALIZATION
Nigeria is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world with over 250 ethnolinguistic groups, some of which are bigger than many independent states of contemporary Africa.It is a creation of the British. Before the arrival of Journal of Policy and Development British colonialists, the area now known as Nigeria was inhabited by peoples who belonged to different empires, kingdoms and societies, which were traditionally administered. The relationship between these various entities was characterized by much conflict and little cooperation.
More so, such vices as cannibalism, ritual murder and the killing of twins were rampant among some of the peoples.The arrival of British and other European explorers, merchants and religious missionaries tempered and eventually reduced these vices to the barest minimum. So,after a series of efforts at pacification and conquest, effective British occupation of the area took place from the Royal Niger Company, whose charter was revoked in that year.
Consequent upon this, three separate territories emerged,and they are Lagos, the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria and the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria.The choice of federalism as the preferred system of government for Nigeria was not accidental,and the eventual transformation of Nigeria into a federal state started in 1954 as a result of the 1953 Lyttleton constitution conference.In a federal structure, adequate autonomy is given to each level of government to enable it perform its responsibility without frustration.
As a device for the containment of intra societal pluralism, federalism offers good prospect for achieving political stability of especially heterogeneous societies. All in a bid to describe the popularity of the federal idea in the post 1945 period, Watts (2000) aptly captured the compromises that greeted the adoption of the federal system in many countries. In which, Nigeria is not an exception.
According to Watts (2000), …the creators of the new states approaching independence found themselves faced with simultaneous conflicting demands for territorial integration and balkanization. They had to reconcile the need, on the one hand, for relatively large economic and political units…with the desire, on the other hand, to retain authority of the smaller political units with traditional allegiances representing racial, linguistic, ethnic and religious communities. In such situations, where the forces for integration and separation were at odds with each other, political leaders of nationalist independence movements and colonial administrators alike found in the “federal solution” a popular formula, providing a common ground for centralizers and provincialists.
Pursuant upon this background, it could be reasoned that Nigeria’s adoption of the federal system was not as a strategy to manage problems of pre-independence period but more importantly as an enduring strategy that would help set off a major source of threat to the future political stability of an independent Nigeria.
In Nigeria, adoption of this governmental arrangement dated back to 1954 when it emerged a federation of three regions defined by the three major ethnic groups. However, in theory, Nigeria is said to be practicing Federalism since 1954. In fact, evidence on ground points to the opposite direction. That is that the government is tending progressively toward a unitary state.
This is especially so in the area of sharing of functions and resources available in the country between the central government and the component units on the one hand and between the government and citizens on the other (Ajagun, 2006).
Like all federal systems,Nigeria’s federalism since its adoption in 1954 has been operating in both fiscal and political contexts. The fiscal context consists of the mode of expropriation and distribution of resources while the political context relates to putting in place appropriate structures that would facilitate the self actualization and realisation of component units. One basic fact list that the operation of federalism in both contexts must be designed in such a way as to avoid marked inequality among the component units in power and resource matrix.
Indeed, it has been noted that financial subordination of units or marked inequality between them in terms of wealth, population and land mass constitute potent destabilising factors in federations and may make an end of federalism. In the fiscal context, there is no doubt that profound conflict exist among the component units of the Nigerian federation. At inception of the system, there was a large devolution of powers to the regions. Equally, each region enjoys considerable autonomy over its internal affairs in addition to having a regional police force and civil service.
In terms of resource distribution, the principle of derivation occupied a significant place in the distribution formula. This followed recommendations of the Louis Chick Commission of 1953 which was set up to ‘assess the effect, on the public expenditure of Nigeria as a whole, the reallocation of functions between the centre and the regions.Thus, derivation remained a major emphasis in federal revenue allocation between 1954 and 1966 when the military took over headship of the country.Albeit,some other commissions were set up whose recommendations led to some minor modifications in the revenue sharing arrangement.
The pre-military federal system that Nigeria operated in the period now known as the First Republic was fundamentally different from the post-military federal structure. In the former, the three and later four regions, were fully autonomous federating units. Each region, with a premier as head of government, operated its own laws and constitution. Each of them had native authority police while the federal government maintained the Nigeria police. Each region was allowed to have its representatives in some foreign countries. They were designated agents, not ambassadors although they functioned practically in that capacity.
Each region also had the symbol of its own authority. None of them was totally or near totally dependent on the centre for its fiscal and other needs. Each region was strong enough and rich enough to take care of itself. The main criticism of this arrangement was that the regions were too powerful and the centre was too weak for a meaningful federal system and national unity. The regions, given the degree of their autonomy, tended to treat the federal government with disdain. The federal government could not impose its will on the federating units. It was generally felt that if this continued, things would eventually fall apart.
The 1960 and 1963 Constitutions devolved tremendous powers to the regions, which unto themselves, became fulcrums of political power. Regionalism was nurtured or realized to the extent that the equilibrium between centrifugal and centripetal political forces, which true federalism addresses, became much more academic than real. This continues today. With the advent of the military in 1966, federalism suffered in Nigeria. The independence of the regions was compromised as a hierarchical command structure emerged. A very powerful central government came into being and the states which succeeded the regions became mere appendages to the central government.
Interestingly, the military arrived the scene when oil was gaining prominence over cocoa, groundnut and palm oil. Even more interesting was the fact that the oil deposits were found in states controlled by minority ethnic groups with very little say in the administration of the nation. It is therefore beyond coincidence that the principle of derivation was cancelled, and the rights and control of the natural endowments of the Niger Delta were transferred to the federal government.
Were Nigeria to uphold the principles of true federalism, the present call for resource control would be non-existent. This is because true federalism guarantees resource control. True federalism protects the fundamental rights of both the individual and the federating states. It affords states the benefit of deploying their resourcesfor their own development.
Davidson (1992) notes that Nigeria is currently operating a defective and fallible federalism because the Nigerian federal system has consistently undermined one of the most cardinal philosophical principles of federalism. He says the relative autonomy, independence and self-determination of these units must be appreciated and guaranteed in clear terms.It should be noted that all things being equal, federalism offers an ideal model of government for a plural society. And Nigeria, with at least 374 ethnic groups certainly qualifies for federalism should we find the political will to embrace the philosophy. Nonetheless, some argue that federalism was an imposition by the British government and perhaps not without some sinister motives –a hidden agenda to plant discord and disunity after independence so as to succeed in its policy of “Divide and Rule”. All in all, Federalism in Nigeria refers to the devolution of self-governance by the West African nation of Nigeria to its federated states, who share sovereignty with the Federal Government.
USING JUDICIAL DECISIONS IN ANALYSING THE WORKING OF NIGERIAN FEDERALISM.
The judicial decisions/ precedents that will be deployed in analysing and dissecting the working of Nigerian Federalism are aptly captured below:
1.ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF LAGOS STATE v. ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION ( S.C. 70/2004)
2.ATTORNEY GENERAL OF OGUN STATE & ORS. v. ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION. (SC 137 of 2001)  NGSC 3 (13 December 2002);
3.ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION v.ATTORNEY GENERAL OF ABIA STATE & OTHERS (2006) 4 SC(PART 1) 1;(NO 2)(2002)6 NWLR (Part 764)542.Nigeria (2004) 4 NWL R (Pt. 864) 580
4.ATTORNEY GENERAL OF BENDEL STATE v. ATTORNEY GENERAL OF FEDERATION.NCLR 1, 10 SC 1 – 1982
5.CHIEF OLAFISOYE v.FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA(2004) 4 NWLR(Pt.864) 580.
6.ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION v.ATTORNEY GENERAL OF ABIA STATE & 35 OTHERS (SC 227 of 2002)  NGSC 3 (31 January 2003);
1.ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF LAGOS STATE v. ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION ( S.C. 70/2004)As ,Kehinde M.Mowoe succintly justifies the meaning of federalism in his book christened—Constitutional Law in Nigeria— as the division of power between a national government,and other regional or state government,and sometimes local government.This is evident when the court in this suit , which was as a consequent of the then President – Olusegun Obasanjo – letter written to the Minister of Finance to withhold all allocations due to the Nigerian states, Lagos included. What necessitated the letter was the creation and conduction of election in new local government councils by the following states: Ebonyi, Katsina, Lagos, Nasarawa and Niger.
In the letter written by the President, he avers, that although the State House of Assembly has power to create Local Government Councils but such must be given legal backing by the National Assembly in accordance with S.8(5) of the CFRN 1999. In the letter, the President went ahead to stipulate that, “all states should be requested to submit evidence that they have established State Joint Local Government Account in compliance with Section 162-(6) of the  Constitution and also determined the basis for sharing allocations from the Federation Account due to their constituent Local Government Councils. In addition, they should also submit evidence of payment of State allocation into the State Joint Local Government Account, to enable payment of allocation to the Local Government Area Councils of each State from the Federation Account to the Joint Account.”
In furtherance, the issues revolve around whether the Local Government Councils created by the Lagos State Government is valid; and also whether the Federal Government can withhold money meant for the Local Government Council of a State [in this context, Lagos State].
The court Per Uwais(JSC) held thus: ‘by the doctrine of federalism which has been adopted by virtue of section 2(2) of the 1999 Constitution, the autonomy of each government, which presupposes its separate existence and its independence from the Federal Government, is essential to federal arrangement. Therefore each government exists not as an appendage of another government but as an autonomous entity in the sense of being able to exercise its own will in the conduct of its affairs, free from direction by another government.
Moreso,the President has no power vested in him (by executive or administrative action) to suspend or withhold for any period whatsoever the statutory allocation due and payable to Lagos State Government pursuant to the provision of section 162 (5) of the 1999 Constitution but in respect of the 20 Local Government Areas for the time being provided by section 3 subsection (6) of the Constitution and not the new Local Government Areas created which are not yet operative.” So,it is crystal clear here that, federalism has seen the order of the day, because sovereignty has been constitutionally divided between the central government and subordinate government.
2.ATTORNEY GENERAL OF OGUN STATE & ORS. v. ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION. (SC 137 of 2001)  NGSC 3 (13 December 2002)—
Federalism sees the order of the day in this case when the learned justice of the supreme cout gave their decisions on the following issues that centralize on federalism.
a.On the distribution amongst the States of the proceeds of tax or duties:Section 163 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 provides that the net proceeds of tax or duty accruing to the Federal Government shall be distributed among the States on the basis of derivation. Thus, where such tax or duty is collected by the Government of the State, the net proceeds shall be treated as part of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of that State; and where the tax or duty is collected by the Federal Government, each State must be paid a sum equal to the proportion of the net proceeds of the tax or duty derived from that State. Per Onu, JSC, at page 31.
b. On the Federal Government’s powers in terms of Section 62(5)-(8) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999:The Federal Government is not entitled within the proper meaning of Section 62(5)-(8) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 to pay the amount standing to the credit of the Local Government Councils in the Federation Account directly to the Local Government Councils. Such payments by the defendant were illegal and unconstitutional. Per Onu, JSC, at page 31.
c: On the constitutional validity of Section 6(1), (2) and (3) of the Allocation of Revenue (Federation Account) Act Cap. 16 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.As Section 6(1), (2) and (3) of the Allocation of Revenue (Federation Account) Act Cap. 16 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was inconsistent with Section 62(5), (6) and (8) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, the former Section was held to be invalid, unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect. Per Onu, JSC, at page 31
3. ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION v.ATTORNEY GENERAL OF ABIA STATE & OTHERS (SC 227 of 2002) (2003) All N.L.R. 61 NGSC 3 (31 January 2003)—The workability of federalism could be easily noted and seen via the decision of Per Uwais JSC and his learned brother— Per Ogundare JSC— in the supra suits while they avered on three issues seriatim: President’s power to modify existing Law, Increment of 7.5 percent to the Federal government share of the federation account,and distribution of credit in the Federation accounts.
PRESIDENT’S POWER TO MODIFY EXISTING LAW
Per Ogundare(JSC), held thus:Section 315(2) of the 1999 Constitution enjoins the President to effect such modifications in the text of an existing law as he may consider necessary or expedient to bring the law into conformity with the provisions of the Constitution.The power of the President to “modify” an existing law is not limited to textual changes. The word “modification” includes addition, alteration, omission and repeal.
The wordings of the Constitution are to be given liberal interpretation. To interpret “modification” to mean textual change only, is to give a very narrow meaning to the word.Order Statutory Instrument No 9 of 2002 might offend some general jurisprudential principles, but where such principles are expressly or impliedly excluded by the Constitution, the Courts cannot give effect to the dictates of the principles. The provisions of Section 315 of the Constitution enable the President to make the order in question.
INCREMENT OF 7.5 PERCENT TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHARE OF FEDERATION ACCOUNT.
Per Uwaifo JSC asserts in the following lines of wordings:The purported increase of 7.5 percent share to the Federal Government from the Federation Account has been effectively and completely utilised or shared out as required by the Constitution. This means that even the 56 percent purported new share of the Federal Government was not in real or practical terms achieved or realised. It is merely notional.
For practical purposes it is still the same allocation of 48.5 percent for the Federal Government.What the President has done by making the Order Statutory Instrument No 9 of 2002 is in obedience to the decision of this Court in the Abia case cited above as well as in obedience to the Constitution. By the order, the President has now brought the law into conformity with the provision of the Constitution which stipulates for the distribution of the Federation Account amongst the three tiers of Government only.
The 7.5 percent “Special Funds” is now an allocation direct from the Federal Government’s share of the Federation Account to the items or things listed under the “Special Funds.
DISTRIBUTION OF CREDIT IN THE FEDERATION ACCOUNT.
Per Uwaifo equally avers thus:In respect of the distribution of the amount standing to the credit of the Federation Account, all that Section 162(3) of the Constitution demands compliance with by any law on allocation of revenue is that only the three tiers of Government shall be the first line beneficiaries, namely the Federal Government, the State Governments and the Local Government Councils. This is what the Modification Order made by the President has achieved. The question of what percentage each tier gets is a political one which is not justiciable as a direct legal issue. Without any doubt,the workability of federalism is quite lucid via these afforementioned decisions that exhibited the different structures of government.
4.ATTORNEY GENERAL OF BENDEL STATE v. ATTORNEY GENERAL OF FEDERATION.NCLR 1, 10 SC 1 – 1982
In the above case, federalism is seen to have emerged when the governmental power of the country was shared between the central government and component unit,and the court equally held in respect of a subject matters which borders on federalism thus:
i. On the distribution amongst the States of the proceeds of tax or duties.Section 163 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 provides that the net proceeds of tax or duty accruing to the Federal Government shall be distributed among the States on the basis of derivation. Thus, where such tax or duty is collected by the Government of the State, the net proceeds shall be treated as part of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of that State; and where the tax or duty is collected by the Federal Government, each State must be paid a sum equal to the proportion of the net proceeds of the tax or duty derived from that State. Per Onu, JSC, at page 31.
ii. On the Federal Government’s powers in terms of Section 62(5)-(8) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.The Federal Government is not entitled within the proper meaning of Section 62(5)-(8) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 to pay the amount standing to the credit of the Local Government Councils in the Federation Account directly to the Local Government Councils. Such payments by the defendant were illegal and unconstitutional. Per Onu, JSC, at page 31.
iii.On the constitutional validity of Section 6(1), (2) and (3) of the Allocation of Revenue (Federation Account) Act Cap. 16 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.As Section 6(1), (2) and (3) of the Allocation of Revenue (Federation Account) Act Cap. 16 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was inconsistent with Section 62(5), (6) and (8) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, the former Section was held to be invalid, unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect. Per Onu, JSC, at page 31.
5.CHIEF OLAFISOYE v.FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA(2004) 4 NWLR(Pt.864) 580.
In the light of promoting federalism,the court succintly reached two decisions which are aptly captioned below:
i On the concurrent power of the Federal and State Governments.The legislative power to prohibit the practices of corruption and the abuse of power is a concurrent power which can be exercised by both the Federal and State Governments. When the National Assembly enacted the ICPC Act, 2000 it invoked the doctrine of covering the field and it was empowered and right to do so. Per Tobi, JSC at 208.Both corrupt practices and the abuse of power are concurrent to both the Federal and State Governments. Per Tobi, JSC at 208.
ii On the competence of the National Assembly to enact ICPC ACT .The National Assembly has the powers to make laws “for order and good government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with respect to offences arising from, connected with or pertaining to corrupt practices and abuse of power” and thathe ICPC Act, 2000 was therefore constitutional and valid. The National Assembly had the power to enact Sections 9(1)(a), 9(1) and 26(1)(c) of the ICPC Act, 2000; and the National Assembly did not have the power to enact Section 26(3) of the ICPC Act, 2000 and that subsection was accordingly ultra vires and void.
6.ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION v.ATTORNEY GENERAL OF ABIA STATE & 35 OTHERS (SC 227 of 2002)  NGSC 3 (31 January 2003)
The AG of the Federation sued the government of all the States of the Federation, including the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria, Abuja. He sued under Section 232 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), which confers on the Supreme Court, the power to preside over matters between the Federation and the State or between the State and another or other States, in its original jurisdiction.The Federal Government wanted to know the amount of revenue that would accrue to it from the natural resources of Littoral states in the country and thus, the Supreme Court was to determine the seaward boundary of the States.
In so doing the supreme court held thus:there was no misjoinder of the non-littoral States. This is because the decision made in this case relates to the distribution in the Federation account, and the non-littoral States have a share in that distribution.The Court Stated that the main thrust of the suit was to determine the seaward boundaries of the States and not to determine inter-state boundaries bringing it under the purview of international law.
It states that this could be determined by interpreting the provisions of the Constitution. The Court has the power to do this because it would only be exercising its interpretative powers. It was not also usurping the powers of the National Boundary Commission under the National Boundary Commission etc. Act, Cap. 238.Thus, since there was a dispute between the Federation and the State as to seaward boundaries, it was within the ambit of the Supreme Court.
The learned authors of American Heritage Lexicon briefly elucidates federalism as: a system of government in which power is divided between a central authority and constituent political units.b. Advocacy of such a system of government.2. Federalism The doctrine of the Federalist Party. In a similar fashion, Wikipedia posits it from the Nigerian perspective thus:Federalism in Nigeria refers to the devolution of self-governance by the West African nation of Nigeria to its federated states, who share sovereignty with the Federal Government. In reliance on the duo views,it could be unanimously state that this treatise has justified federalism,federalism in Nigeria,its genesis,and judicial analysis of it vide the cited cases.
Oxford Dictionary of Law, Sixth Edition, edited by Elizabeth A.Martin.& Jonathan Law.
The Nigerian Legal Method (2016 2nd Edition): Ese Malemi
Introduction to Nigerian Legal System (2nd Edition):J.O Asein.
Constitutional Law in Nigeria: Kehinde M.Mowoe.
Comprehensive Government (New Edition): Johnson Ugoji Anyaele
Federalism in Nigeria: the past, current peril and future hopes: Aderonke Majekodunmihttps://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federalism_in_Nigeria
1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria: With Amendments 2011.
S.162(1), (3), & (5) CFRN 1999;
S.3(1), (2) & (6);
S.8(3) CFRN 1999;
First Schedule of the CFRN 1999;
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jimoh AbdulGaniy Adisa,is an LL.B 300 Student at Faculty of Law, Bayero University, Kano, a writer, educator,and a legal researcher.He is the Deputy Director of Research and Litigation (Islamic Law) Equity Chamber, and a Law Clinician.In a similar fashion, the Current Assistant Secretary General of National Association of Kwara State Law Student,BUK Chapter.He can be reached via the following social media handles:
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