By Baba-Panya Musa

‘What is the status of FCT-Abuja? has been a lingering and somewhat bedevilling question over the years. Perhaps even going back to 1976 when Federal Capital
Territory-Abuja (FCT-Abuja)
was established by Decree No.6 of 4th February, now Cap. 503 LFN, 2004.  Why even the question in the first place, one may want to ask.  The answer is simple.  It is found and caused by two ordinary words of; “…as if….”.  The word ‘if’ has always been a big word.  Its’ use orally or written always conjectures ‘uncertainty’ or worse, the complete ‘unknown’.  ‘If’ is shadowy.  It speaks only to ‘near reality’ and never real.  It puts things in the grey zone.  Never white or black.  It is bad enough to use it alone, how much more when you add another word to it.  A word like, ‘..as…’.  And so there you have it.  ‘…as if…’

“As if…” is even worse.  It leaves things to only possibility of being so or not so.  I can go on and on but I believe the message and clarity of the begging question is well understood.  Now what is it all about and how did it all come about? Well that is not for conjecture as would be seen anon.

By virtue of Section 1 of Decree No.6 1976 (now Cap.503), the over 9,000= sq.km of the area  and constituent  that is  FCT-Abuja was carved out of the former States of Niger, Plateau (now Nasarawa) and Kwara (now Kogi).  Effective 4th February, 1976 FCT-Abuja ceased to belong or be part of the said former States and assumed a new status and become the seat of the Government of Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The return to democratic governance in October 1st 1979 ushered in a new constitution.  Section 2(a) the said Constitution (now 1999 Constitution -CFRN) states Nigeria to be a Federation consisting of States and a Federal Capital TerritorySubsection 4 further defines FCT to also be Abuja to which the provisions of Chapter VIII Part 1 apply.  The said Cap consists of Sections 297 to 304.  With respect to the res under reference, I will concentrate on Section 299.

Section 297(1) defines the boundaries of FCT-Abuja.  Subsection (2) states the ownership of all lands in FCT-Abuja shall vests in the Government of the Federation.  Section 298 on its part states FCT-Abuja to be the Capital of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and seat of Government of the Federation.

Section 299 is the source of the res under discourse and thus becomes necessary to reproduce verbatim its provisions as follows:-

Section 299 Application of Constitution

The provisions of this Constitution shall apply to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as if it were one of the States of the Federation; and accordingly-

  • all the legislative powers, the executive powers and the judicial powers vested in the House of Assembly, the Governor of a State shall, respectively, vest in the National Assembly, the President of the Federation and in the courts which by virtue of the foregoing provisions are courts established for the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja;
  • all the powers referred to in paragraph (a) of this section shall be exercised in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution; and
  • the provisions of this Constitution pertaining to the matters aforesaid shall be read with such modifications and adaptations as may be reasonably necessary to bring them into conformity with the provisions of this section.

It has earlier been noted that the phrase; ‘…as if…’ creates a definition or meaning grey zone.  It leaves matters only for conjecture or possibility as against reality and truth.  However as shadowy as it is, it remains no longer a mystery or grey or conjecture.  The phrase or words has been x-rayed, and a definitive interpretation given. Not once but on three occasions.  The more recent searchlight was by the Apex Court itself.

It all began with the first exposition of Section 299 and its said nebulous phrase of ‘…as if…’ was undertaken in a seemingly ordinary civil case filed at the FCT-Abuja High Court in May 2001.  The case; OKOYADE vs. FCDA pertained a simple case of contractual debt which however turned to be a life-wire issue.  As it were, the case was instituted in the wake of Supreme Court’s Locus Classicus of NEPA vs. ENDEGERO (2002) LPELR-1957(SC) that expounded the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court.  This is to say the ‘exclusive jurisdiction’ provided by Section 251 -1999 CFRN in respect of cases where Federal Government or any of its agencies is a party.  Now because FCDA was sued in the FCT-High Court, the question thus became ‘whether the FCT-High Court was forum competents to entertain the suit in which FCDA as contended by the said party was ‘an agency’ of the Federal Government.  The Honorable Trial Judge suo moto felt that the said Supreme Court decision (NEPA vs. ENDEGERO) had occasioned a; ‘substantial issue of law’ warranting a ‘case stated’ to the Court of Appeal for interpretation as per Section 295(1-2) CFRN.

Expectedly, at the Court of Appeal (Abuja Division) a ‘Full Court’ (5 Justices) was empanelled, coram; Hon Justices; (Raphael O. Rowland JCA, Olufunlola O. Adekeye JCA (as then was) , Amina A. Augie JCA (as then was), Stanley S. Aloaga JCA (as then was) and Tijjani Abdullahi JCA).  There were two main ratios pertaining the ‘status of FCT-Abuja in law’.  For the benefit of doubt the ratios are as follows:

Whether the Federal Capital Territory is a “State” by virtue of the provisions of Section 299 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, the court declared thus;

It seems to me that the first question in this matter that one should ask is whether the Federal Capital Territory is a “State” by virtue of the provisions of Section 299 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. Section 299 provides thus – “The provisions of this Constitution shall apply to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as if it were one of the States of the Federation and accordingly- (a) all the legislative powers, the executive powers and the judicial powers vested in the House of Assembly, the Governor of a State and in the Courts of a State shall, respectively, vest in the National Assembly, the President of the Federation and in the Courts which by virtue of the foregoing provisions are Courts established for the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; (b) all the powers referred to in Paragraph (a) of this Section shall be exercised in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution, and ???(c) the provisions of this Constitution pertaining to the matter aforesaid shall be read with such modification and adoptions as may be reasonably necessary to bring them into conformity with the provisions of this Section.” The above provision of the Constitution to my mind is very clear and unambiguous. It is trite that where a provision of statute is clear and unambiguous, only its natural meaning is to be given to its interpretation. See A-G., Abia State v. A-G., Federation (2002) 17 WRN 1; (2002) 6 NWLR (Pt. 763) 264 at 485 – 486, Texaco Panama Inc. v. Shell P.D.C.N. Ltd. (2002) 14 WRN 121; (2002) 5 NWLR (Pt. 759) 209 at 227 – 228, Tasha v. U.B.N. Plc. (2003) 36 WRN 64; (2002) 3 NWLR (Pt. 753) page 99 at 106, O.A.U. Ile-Ife v. R. A. Oliyide and Sons Ltd. (2001) 7 NWLR (Pt. 712) page 456 at 473, Akpan v. Umali (2002) 23 WRN 52; (2002) 7 NWLR (Pt. 767) page 701 at 729.

It is therefore doubtless clear that by virtue of Section 299 of the Constitution of the Federation, the Federal Capital Territory is in law a State. In others words the Federal Capital Territory should be treated as one of the States in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It follows therefore that bodies like the Federal Capital Development Authority are to be regarded an agency of “a State” independent of the Federal Government. It would appear that the only relationship existing between the Federal Government and the Federal Capital Territory is that its executive and legislative powers and duties are exercised for it by the President through the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory and the National Assembly respectively. From the provision of Section 299(a), where the President through the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Acts, he does so as a Governor of a State, so also where the National Assembly legislates for Abuja it does so as a State House of Assembly. See Fawehinmi v. Babangida (2003) 12 WRN 1; (2003) 3 NWLR (Pt. 808) page 604 where the Supreme Court endorsed the status of Federal Capital Territory as a “State” of the Federation. At page 677 the Supreme Court per Onu, JSC held as follows- “Returning to the case in hand, the power to make a law under the 1999 Constitution for the establishment of a Tribunal of Inquiry is now a residual power, which only the States can exercise. The National Assembly can only pass such a law in regard to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Thus, while the Commission of Inquiry Act Cap, 447 is an existing law, it has no general application to Nigeria. It is only applicable to the Federal Capital Territory a law deemed enacted by each House of Assembly for the respective States.” I hold the strong view that the intendment and general purpose of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria particularly its Section 299 is that the Federal Capital Territory should be a separate administrative unit distinct from the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This is the position in reality. For example the Abuja Environmental Protection Board is an agency created for the development, enhancement and beautification of Abuja environment while the Federal Government has a similar agency called Federal Environmental Protection Board. Section 5(e) of the Abuja Environmental Protection Agency Decree No. 10 of 1997 provides as one of the objectives of the board to “co-operate with the- Federal Environmental Protection Agency and such other States, Environmental Protection Agencies to achieve effective prevention or abatement of trans boundary movement of wastes.” It seems to me that the above provision further confirms the status of Abuja as a separate administrative unit distinct from the Government of the Federation. I consider Section 301 of the 1999 Constitution to be very germane to the subject matter. Section 301 reads- “Without prejudice to the generality of the provisions of Section 299 of this Constitution in its application to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, this Constitution shall be construed as if – (a) references to the Governor, Deputy Governor and the Executive Council of a State (howsoever called) were references to the President, Vice President and the Executive Council of the Federation (howsoever called) respectively; (b) references to the Chief Judge and Judges of the High Court of a State were references to the Chief Judge and Judges of the High Court, which is established for the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja by the provisions of this Constitution???” From the above provisions of Section 301 of the 1999 Constitution, it is my view that all institutions created for the Federal Capital Territory only carry the appellation “federal” while in the real sense they are State agencies because they are institutions meant for the Federal Capital Territory as a State. I must say it loud and clear again that from the provisions of Section 299 of the Constitution one should not be left in doubt: (i) That the provision of the Constitution shall apply to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as if it were one of the States of the Federation. (ii) All legislative powers, executive powers and judicial powers vested in the House of Assembly, the Governor of a State and in the Courts of a State shall respectively vest in the National Assembly, the President of the Federation and the Courts established under the Federal Capital Territory. From the foregoing provision of Section 299(a) of the Constitution, if the legislative powers to make laws for the Federal Capital Territory lies in the National Assembly, the executive powers lies in the President, then the judicial power to interpret and adjudicate on matters relating to federal matters also lies in the Federal Capital Territory High Court. Therefore, I hold the strong view that the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory has jurisdiction to entertain suit of two dimensions: ???(a) Suits in which agencies of the Federal Government are not parties – Section 257(1) and Section 259(1) of the Constitution. (b) Suits in which agents of the Federal Government are parties and agencies of the Federal Capital Territory. –Per RAPHAEL OLUFEMI ROWLAND ,JCA (Pp. 7-13, para. A-A)-underline added

As to interpretation of Section 299 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) with respect to status of the Federal Capital Territory as a separate administrative unit distinct from the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria the court held as follows;

Section 299 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 provides thus:- “299 (1) the provisions of this Constitution shall apply to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as if it were one of the States of the Federation and accordingly: (a) all the legislative powers, the executive powers vested in the House of Assembly, the President of the Federation and in the Courts which by virtue of the foregoing provisions are Courts established for the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. (b) all the powers referred to in Paragraph (a) of this Section shall be exercised in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution; and (c) the provisions of this Constitution pertaining to the matters aforesaid shall be read with such modifications and adaptations as may be reasonably necessary to bring them into conformity with the provisions of this Section. The provisions of Section 299(1) a – c, stated above are clear and unambiguous and one does need any aid to interpret same. In the case of Texaco Panama Inc. v. Shell P.D.C.N. Ltd. (2002) 14 WRN 121; (2002) 5 NWLR (Pt. 759) page 209 at pages 226 – 227, the Apex Court, when faced with the problem of interpreting the word “any” in a statute held thus:- “It is now settled that the cardinal principle of interpretation of statutes is that where the ordinary plain meaning of the words used in a statute are very clear and unambiguous, effect must be given to those words without resorting to any intrinsic or external aid. The duty of the Court under those circumstances is to interpret the words strictly giving them their intended meaning and effect.” See the following cases:- (i) A-G., Abia State v. A-G., Federation (2002) 17 WRN 1; (2002) 6 NWLR (Pt. 763) page 264 at 485 – 486. (ii) O.A.U Ile-Ife v. R. A. Oliyide and Sons Ltd. (2001) 7 NWLR (Pt. 712) page 456. (iii) Akpan v. Umah (2002) 23 WRN 52; (2002) 7 NWLR (Pt. 767) at 707. I am of the considered view that the natural meaning to be given to Section 299 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 is that the Federal Capital Territory should be a separate administrative unit distinct from the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I further add that every institution created for the Federal Capital Territory only carry the appellation Federal while in the real sense they are State Agencies because they are institutions meant for the Federal Capital Territory. -Per TIJANI ABDULAHI ,JCA (Pp. 48-50, paras. D-E) –underline added

Although the reasoning and implications of OKOYEDE vs. FCDA’s case is very explicit, it would appear that instead of shading light to the provisions of Section 299 CFRN as per FCT-Abuja legal status,  more dusts was raised.  And the doubt and controversy still persisted and did linger on.

In February, year 2015, the indigenes of FCT-Abuja decided to put to test the validity and legal implications of the ground breaking case of Okoyode (supra).   A certain Musa Baba-Panya a Lawyer (and then General Counsel of OIDA-Original Inhabitants Development Association of Abuja) and Danladi Jeji as President of OIDA filed a suit the Federal High Court (Abuja Division) vide an Originating Summons against the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Attorney-General of the Federation seeking the interpretation of the combined provisions of Sections; 147(1-3) 14(3), 42 and 299 CFRN.  They raised the following ‘questions’;

  1. Whether by the combined provisions of Section 147 (1), (3), 14(3) and 299 of the 1999 Constitution the indigenes of FCT-Abuja are entitled to Ministerial appointment into the Federal Executive Council.
  2. Whether the continued refusal, failure and default by previous and current Presidents to so appoint an indigene of FCT-Abuja as minister of the Federation tantamount to a flagrant violation of the 1999 Constitution.
  3. Whether the continuous refusal, failure and default by previous and current presidents to so appoint an indigene of FCT-Abuja as Minister of the Federation tantamount to acts of discrimination and same is a breach of the fundamental right of indigenes of FCT-Abuja.

Amongst the reliefs claimed were the following;

  1. A declaration that the indigenes of FCT-Abuja are entitled to ministerial appointment into the Federal Executive Council.
  2. A declaration that the continuous refusal failure or default by previous and current Presidents to appoint an indigene of FCT-Abuja as a Minister of the Federation is a flagrant violation of the constitutional rights of indigenes of FCT-Abuja.
  3. A declaration that the continuous refusal failure or default by previous and current Presidents to appoint an indigene of FCT-Abuja as a Minister of the Federation is a flagrant violation of the fundamental rights against discrimination of the FCT-Abuja indigenes.
  4. An order compelling the President (1st defendant) to the immediate appointment of an indigene of FCT-Abuja as a Minister of the Federation

The case was MUSA BABA-PANYA & ANOR vs. PRESIDENT-FRN & ANOR – SUIT NO. FHC/ABJ/CS/14/2015.  The Federal High holden at Abuja coram; Hon Justice Mohammed Ahmed adjudicated the matter; he reaffirmed Okoyode’s case on legal status of FCT-Abuja to be; ‘in law a State.’  He however determined the suit to be incompetent and thus struck it out.  Dissatisfied with the judgment of the court, the 1st Plaintiff only filed an Appeal at the Court of Appeal Abuja Division.  The case thus became; BABA PANYA vs. PRESIDENT –FRN & 2ORS –CA/A/412/2016.

The Court of Appeal coram Honorable Justices;  Tinuade Akomolafe-Wilson JCA, Emmanuel Akomaye Agim JCA and Mohammed Mustapha JCA  delivered  what has turned out to be a Landmark judgment on 15th January, 2018. The case has since been reported as BABA-PANYA vs. PRESIDENT, FRN (2018) 15 NWLR (pt. 1643)395; (2018) LPELR-44573(CA).  The NWLR extracted 30 ratios amongst which are the following notable pronouncements as per Tinuade Akomolafe-Wilson JCA; who wrote the lead judgment. Hear the learned jurist anon;

  1. On Scope and application of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999-

By virtue of section 299 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria , 1999 the provisions of the Constitution shall apply to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as if it were one of the States of the Federation.

  1. On whether the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja is a State-

By virtue of section 299 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja is a State.  In other words, the Federal Capital Territory should be treated as one of the states in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.  Section 299 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 has a clear and unambiguous provision to the effect that the Federal Capital Territory, is in law a State. Where provisions of statute are clear and unambiguous, only its natural meaning will suffice. The wordings of section 299 Constitution are quite simple, clear and direct, and also mandatory.  It simply means that the provisions of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 shall apply to the Federal Capital Territory as if it were one of the States of the Federation.

  1. On Purport of section 14(3)of Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999-

The purport of section 14(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, is to ensure equality or fairness in the representation of each State in the conduct of the affairs of the Government of the Federation so that no one State or ethnic group will be deprive of participation in running the affairs of the Federal Government.

  1. On Need for reflection of federal character in the appointment of ministers-

The wordings of section 147(1) and (3)of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 are crystal clear and simple.  They specifically express the need for the reflection of federal character in the appointment of Ministers so that each State has at least one Minister who shall be an indigene of the State.

  1. On Justiciability of provisions under Chapter II of the 1999 Constitution-

By virtue of section 6(6)(c) of the 1999 Constitution, generally, the provisions under Chapter II of the 1999 Constitution are not justiciable.

  1. On Justiciability of section 14(3) of the Constitution and relationship between specific provision and general provision-

In view of the importance of the reflection of federal character in the appointment of Ministers by the President, section 14(3) was incorporated into the provisions of Chapter II of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 for mandatory compliance.  The inclusion of section 14(3) for its compliance by the President in section 147(3) makes section 14(3)in relation to Ministerial appointment justiciable.  A specific provision prevails over and above a general provision in an enactment.

  1. On Purport of section 147 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999-

Section 147 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 brings to fore the intent of promoting social equilibrium in Nigerian society, by  ensuring the balance in the composition of the governance of the Federation hence the issue of Federal Character is engraved in the Constitution.  In the instant case, the failure of the President to comply with the provisions of section 147(3) of Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 was tantamount to a derogation of the Constitution.

  1. On Who is an indigene of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja-

By virtue of section 1(3)(a) and (b) of the Part II of the Federal Character Commission (Establishment, etc.) Act, Cap. F7, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, an indigene of the Federal Capital Territory-

  • is a Nigerian citizen other than by naturalization, who cannot lay claim to any State of the Federation, or
  • is a person born in the Federal Capital Territory and whose descendants lived in the are presently constituting the Federal Capital Territory before 26 February, 1976 and has continued to reside in the Federal Capital Territory after that date.
  1. Notable Pronouncement:

…a judge…. is hired to interpret the laws of the country which include the Constitution and Statutes.  Therefore once there is an infraction of the law, the court has a constitutional duty to say so.  In carrying out this duty, the proper approach when faced with clear words of a constitutional provision is to follow them in simple, grammatical and ordinary meaning.  The clear simple ordinary grammatical interpretation of section 147(1) and (3) of the Constitution is that the President must, mandatorily, appoint at least one Minister from each State of the Federation, who shall be an indigene of that State.  As I have stated earlier, it is no more in doubt that the Federal Capital Territory is regarded as a State.

Nigeria is a plural and dynamic society; therefore the tenets of the provisions of the Constitution must be complied with to the letter so as to fulfil its purpose; to promote unity.  Ipso facto, where the provisions of the Constitution enshrine certain rights, the provisions must be applied strictly. The provisions of section 147(3) and its proviso are meant to create a happy egalitarian citizenry in the country as envisaged by the preamble to the Constitution.  The provisions are aimed at ensuring equal and fair participation of all States in the recognition of the diversity of the people of the country and the need to for national unity, promote a sense of belonging among all the people in the Federation.

  1. LANDMARK PRONOUNCEMENT:

On Duty on President of Nigeria to appoint at least one Minister from the indigenes of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja to represent them in the Federal Executive Cabinet of the Federation-

By the combine effect of the provisions of Sections 299, 147(1)and (3) and 14(3) of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 it is obligatory or mandatory for the President of Nigeria to appoint at least one Minister from the indigenes of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as a Minister to represent them in the Federal Executive Cabinet of the Federation . Failure to appoint any Minister from amongst the indigenes of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja is a flagrant violation of the Constitutional right guaranteed by section 147(3) and its proviso, Section 299 and section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution.  In the instant case, the failure or 1st and 2nd respondents to appoint a Minister from amongst an indigene of Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, was a violation of their constitutional rights guaranteed by section 147(3) and the proviso there and section 299 of the 1999 Constitution.

At the end of the suit the Court of Appeal declared the appeal to be meritorious and thereafter issued the following Orders:-

  1. A declaration that the indigenes of FCT-Abuja are entitled to ministerial appointment into the Federal Executive Council,
  2. A declaration that the continuous refusal, failure or default by the previous and current Presidents to appoint an indigene of FCT-Abuja as a Minister of the Federation is a flagrant violation of the constitutional right of indigenes of FCT-Abuja,
  3. An Order compelling the 1st respondent to the immediate appointment of an indigene of FCT-Abuja as a Minister of the Federation forthwith.

The 1st and 2nd respondent shall pay costs of N100,000= to the appellant.

The judgment was served on the President vide Attorney-General of the Federation on 23rd March, 2018.  It is now over 3years and still the judgment has not been implemented.

On 30th January, 2019 following a formal Petition about the non-compliance with the judgement by MC Ezekiel  on behalf of the Coalition of FCT-Abuja Indigenous Associations, the Senate passed the following resolution to wit:-

The indigenes of FCT-Abuja be granted approval by Mr President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to appoint a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to represent FCT-Abuja in the Federal Executive Council.

The said Senate resolution has equally not been heeded by the President. One wonders what it would take for President Mohammad Buhari to implement or comply with the said judgment. The President is doubly sworn (oaths of allegiance and office) to; ‘…preserve protect and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria…’.  The President is equally sworn to; ‘…do right to all manner of people according to the law without fear or favour, affection or ill-will…’ President Mohammad Buhari lives failing the Indigenes of FCT-Abuja.  The violation of the Constitution and indeed the Oaths of Allegiance and Office are acts of ‘…gross misconduct…’ as provided in Section 143(11) and same constitutes grounds for impeachment.

Evidently, a constitutional judgement of the Court Appeal is not worthy of respect or heavy enough to command compliance.  This is exactly the body language from the respondents (President and AGF). What an unfortunate situation. The current dispensation of selective justice, i.e., choosing which court judgments or orders to comply with has become the hallmark of PMB’s administration. A prevailing regime where ‘exparte orders’ are complied with or executed with unmatched speed and alacrity whenever it favors or suits Mr President and political associates. It is a regime where ‘political rights’ far outweighs constitutional rights.  It is the reign of utter political whim and expediency. Constitutional rights that really matter remain being derogated from with reckless impunity.  What manner of legacy, it may be asked.

On 13th March, 2020 the apex Supreme Court delivered a judgment with notable pronouncement on the legal status of FCT-Abuja and thereby putting to paid for ‘…all time…’ the hitherto lingering doubt or controversy.  Because of the importance of the pronouncement it becomes necessary to reproduced verbatim the relevant holdings pertaining the subject of discourse. The case only recently reported (March last) is BAKARE vs. OGUNDIPE (2021) 5NWLR (pt. 1768) SC. 1.  The recently retired eminent jurist OLABODE VIVOUR-RHODES JSC delivering the lead judgment had this to say ‘on status of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja’ as Ratio 1:-

By virtue of section 297(a),(b),(c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999(as amended), the provisions of the Constitution  shall apply to the Federal Capital Territory Abuja, as if it were one of the States of the Federation; and accordingly all the  Legislative powers, the Executive powers and the Judicial powers vested in the House of Assembly, the Governor of a State and in the courts of a State shall respectively, vest in the National Assembly, the President of the Federation and in the courts which by virtue of the provisions are courts established for the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; all the powers referred to in paragraph (a) of the section shall be exercised I accordance with the provisions of the Constitution; and the provisions of the Constitution pertaining to the matters aforesaid shall be read with such modifications and adaptations as may be reasonably necessary to bring them into conformity with the provisions of the section.

By virtue of the provisions of section 299 of the Constitution, it is so clear that Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria, has the status of a State.  It is as if it is one of the States of the Federation. (pp. 36-37, paras. E-A)

So there it is. No doubt, no grey, no conjecture no probability or otherwise and certainly no more argument..  In law FCT-Abuja is a State period. The court of infallibility, not because of perfection, but because of finality. The all mighty Supreme Court has spoken. If not acceptable then appeal lies only to God. It is no longer about Court of Appeal.  It is now all about the Supreme Court.  Is the President and Attorney-General going to appeal to God?

According to Peter Tosh (Reggae Musician); Everyone is crying out for peace yes, none is crying out for justice.  But there will be no peace ‘till men get equal rights. All I need is equal rights and justice.  What is due to Caesar you better give it to Caesar, what belongs to I and I, you better give to I.  Equal rights and justice.

It was Thomas Jefferson (writer and founder of America’s Constitutional democracy) who said thus;

The most sacred of the duties of a government is to do equal and impartial justice to all citizens.

Like it or not, take it or leave it, FCT-Abuja is the 37th State of the Federation. It’s that simple. This being so, there remains no more doubt reason or ground to not appoint an indigene of FCT-Abuja into the Federal Executive Council as a Minister of the Federation.

For 22years and counting Abuja indigenes have been deprived of voice in the affairs and governance of the country.  22 long years, not 8mins 43sec, the Federal Government (and indeed all Presidents) has had its knees on their necks.  They can’t breathe. The Lives of Abuja Natives Matters!!

Baba-Panya Musa

Rights Activist/Constitutional Lawyer

Currently one of Legal Consultants to Senate Committee on Review of the 1999 Constitution, 08059174048; lamilochambers@yahoo.com

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