Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Femi Falana and Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, have weighed in on the ongoing dispute involving the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, and Senator Ireti Kingibe, the representative of the FCT. The esteemed lawyers have made it clear that, according to the Constitution, the FCT Minister is not accountable to Senator Kingibe or the National Assembly in the execution of his duties.
Senator Kingibe had cautioned Minister Wike against operating without oversight from the National Assembly, emphasizing that the FCT Minister’s powers are not executive but must adhere to the constitutional framework established by the legislative branch.
However, Femi Falana cited the Constitution’s Section 299(a), which vests executive powers in the President regarding the FCT, subsequently delegated to the minister. This means the minister can act on behalf of the President, who serves as the FCT’s governor.
Falana stated, “The executive powers of the FCT are vested in the President, the legislative powers are vested in the National Assembly, while the judicial powers are vested in the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.” He added that the minister is not answerable to the National Assembly for his day-to-day functions, as long as they align constitutionally with the President’s mandate.
Echoing Falana’s viewpoint, Adegboruwa clarified that the minister’s accountability is to the President, who appoints and can remove ministers. Apart from the Attorney General, other ministers have no specific statutory duties unless delegated by the President.
The senior lawyers also stressed the importance of following proper procedures for demolishing structures, asserting that neither the President, the minister, nor a state governor can demolish a citizen’s property without due process. They highlighted the need to adhere to relevant laws, such as the Physical Planning Act, which includes provisions for demolitions and avenues for citizens to challenge decisions.
Both Falana and Adegboruwa expressed concerns about demolitions, emphasizing that they often disproportionately affect the poor and should be avoided except in cases of environmental violations.
In summary, Femi Falana and Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa have clarified the constitutional role of the FCT Minister and advocated for the rule of law in addressing property demolitions. Their legal insights add depth to the ongoing debate surrounding the FCT Minister’s authority and the handling of property-related issues.