I read yesterday with amazement and wonder a paper written by one Mr Blessing Agbomhere which is titled – Governors Who Parade Themselves As Chief Security Officers of States Are Mischievous. In the paper, he equates the alleged paraded title – Chief Security Ofricer- by Governors with the title of the President as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation under Section 218 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
He equally twist and misinterpreted the opinion of the court without having regards to other provisions of the constitutions and other extant laws. A provision of the law is not to be interpreted in isolation but in the light of others.
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This piece is to set the record straight on the title – Chief Security Officers of State as Governors are fondly called.. Does it have a place in law?
By way of laying foundation, I will discuss the federal nature of Nigeria, the primary purpose of government, nature of executive powers of a state with reference particularly to Ekiti state government and Governor.
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I will conclude by answering the question whether it is truly mischievous as claimed by Mr Blessing Agbomhere to refer to a Governor as a Chief Security Officer. UNDERSTANDING THE FEDERAL NATURE OF NIGERIA Nigeria is an indivisible and indisoluble sovereign state known as the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
For the purpose of administration, the federation consists of states and a federal capital territory as divisions exercising shared distinctive powers according to the principles of federalism thereby promoting the rule of seperation of powers between the federal and state component units in the federation. See Section 2(1-2) of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as altered hereinafter refers to as CFRN 1999 as altered.
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 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. See A. G., ABIA STATE v A. G., FEDERATION(2006)16 NWLR(PT. 1005) 265 THE PRIMARY PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT AND EXECUTIVE POWERS OF A GOVERNOR
It is the duty of and responsibility of all organs of government, and of all authorities and persons, exercising legislative, executive or judicial powers, to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of Chapter II of CFRN 1999. See Section 13 of CFRN 1999. As Dr. Myles Munroe has succintly said that, When purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable. Likewise, It has been rightly declared that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government. See Section 14(2) (b) of CFRN 1999. Government in this instance include government of the Federation and that of a state.
Though argument has been put forward that the provisions in Chapter Two of the constitution are not justiciable and that they can only be justiciable upon another provision of the constitution and other enacted laws. See OKOGIE v A.G LAGOS (1981) 2 NCLR 337 C.A, ADAMU v A.G BORNO STATE (1996) 8 NWLR PT. 456, P.203 C.A
The executive powers of a State is vested in the Governor of that state and may, subject to the provisions of any Law made by a House of Assembly, be exercised by him either directly or through the Deputy Governor and Comissioners of the Government of that State or officers in the public service of the state and such executive power extends to the execution and maintenance of the constitution, all laws made by the House of Assembly of the state, and to all matters with respect to which the House of Assembly has for the time being power to make laws. See Section 5(2) of CFRN 1999. See also UNITED STATES v NIXON 418 US 683(1974) and GOVERNOR OF LAGOS STATE v OJUKWU(1986) 1 NWLR PT 18, P.621 SC.
It is important to note that the power of execution and maintenance of the Constitution by the Governor of a State include but not limited to provision for security and welfare of the people which is the primary purpose of government. See Section 14(2)(b) of CFRN 1999 as altered. Hence, the establishment of a security network agency called Amotekun by Ekiti State Governor through a law made by the Ekiti House of Assembly in accordance with Section 4(6-7) of CFRN 1999 as altered to protect Nigerian citizens in that state purposely to ensure adequate security.
The executive powers of the state that extends to execution and maintenance of the Constitution and all laws of a House of Assembly of a state include but not limited to;
1. Execution of government and its functions. See Section 13 of CFRN 1999 as altered
2. Protection of the instrumentality of government and its property such as protection of judges. See UNITED STATES v NIXON 418 US 683(1974)
3. Preservation of the government and the state. See CHAE CHAN PING v UNITED STATES (1890) 130 US 581 where the holding of the court was to the effect that the highest function of any government is to preserve the government and the nation and any other consideration are subordinates.
4. Provision of security and welfare for the people. See Section 14(2)(b) of CFRN 1999 as altered However, such vested executive powers of a State must be exercised by the Governor in such a manner as not to impede or prejudice the exercise of the executive powers of the Federation, endanger any asset or investment of the Government of the Federation in that state, or endanger the continuance of a federal government in Nigeria. See Section 5(3) (a-c) of CFRN 1999 as altered.
Referring TO GOVERNORS AS CHIEF SECURITY OFFICERS MISCHIEVOUS? In view of Sections 4(6-7), 5(2-3), 13, 14(b) and 215(4) of CFRN 1999 as altered, there is nothing mishievous in the parading of Governors as Chief Security Officers of the state. In fact and in law, such inference is justified upon understanding of the nature of federal structures or divisions of Nigeria and the nature of executive powers of the Governor.
If the security and welfare of the people is truly the primary purpose of Government of Ekiti State and the Governor is empowered with the executive powers which extends to execution and maintenance of the Constitution, and all laws of the House of Assembly including but not limited to Ekiti State Security Network Agency Laws of 2020, what is the position of the Governor to the Agency? Not a Chief Security Officer of the State? The governor according to Section 215(4) of CFRN 1999 as altered has the power to give lawful directives to the Commissioner of Police of the State with respect to the maintenance and securing of public safety and public within the state as may be necessary, aside the executive powers of the state which extends to execution and maintenance of the constitution, all laws made by the House of Assembly of the state, and all matters with respect to which the House of Assembly has for the time being power to make laws.
The language of the court referred a Governor as a Chief Security Officer of the state in the case of ALAMIEYESEIGHA v IGONIWARI(2007)7NWLR(PT. 1034) 524(2) is in conformity with Sections 4(6-7), 5(2-3), 13, 14(2)(b), and 215(4) of CFRN 1999 as altered. The court states thus; “It is not in doubt that the police matters come under the Exclusive Legislative List No. 45 in the 2nd Schedule to the 1999 constitution..,..With due respect to the learned counsel for the appellant, I do not agree with him that the powers of the Governor to issue lawful directives to the State Commissioner of Police will whittle down the status of the office as a Federal Agent.
To subject, a State Commissioner of Police to the directives of the State Governor (the Chief Security Officer of a State) is for security purposes…” I totally disagree with Mr Blessing Agbomhere’s twisting or alluding the Governor being called the Chief Security Officer of the State by the court above with the status of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Grand Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation. What can be more mischievous than that! The governor, the law or even the court has never given an impression that the title -of Chief Security Officer is for the president or that such title is equivalent with the title of Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation.
Although, the title Chief Security Officer is not stated point black and in a direct expression in the Constitution and other laws for a Governor. However, the expression of the court in the above case of ALAMIEYESEIGHA v IGONIWRI has given it a judicial blessing and the combined effect of the provisions of Sections 4(6-7), 5(2-3), 13, 14(2)(b), and 215(4) of CFRN 1999 as altered solidify the title. It will rather be mischievous for Mr blessing Agbomhere to rob off the judicial blessing showered on the title by twisting the wording of the court as equating the title with the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.