The just concluded primary elections by political parties ahead of the 2019 general elections in the country does not in any way show that Nigeria’s democracy is advancing, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Yakubu Dogara, has said.
Delivering a goodwill message at the public presentation of the book; “Intrinsic and Extrinsic Aids to the Interpretation of the Constitution, Statutes and Private Documents” authored by Hon Justice Rose Ukeje in Abuja on Tuesday, Dogara, argued that democracy is all about adherence to rule of law and due process.
“If you look at it very well you begin to wonder judging from different primaries conducted by political party as to whether we are making progress in the advancement of our democracy,” he queried.
“Democracy is all about laws, it’s all about due process, about the rule of law. Therefore, the deeper your laws, the deeper your democracy. We can deepen our laws by deepening the interpretation of these laws to make them applicable to situations that may arise after the laws have been written. There are no better ways to deepen our democracy.
While commending Hon Justice Ukeje who came out of retirement to write the book, the Speaker noted that, “there is a yawning gap in this area of law, and thankfully she has decided in make a concerned effort at plugging this gap. The issue of interpretation of statues including the constitution is absolutely important in the advancement of our democracy.”
He said the book is a noble effort by the former chief judge of the federal high court because in all cases the Judges who interpret “these laws would not have sat in the hollowed chambers of parliament, so they are not there in the contemplation of when these laws are made, and therefore they are not there when these laws are crafted. But then they must interpret them.”
The Speaker maintained that Judges perform an overall very onerous duty of giving effect to the law “and I believe this wonderful endeavor is going to be very helpful, it’s going to be like a compass in the hands of a pilgrim, for legislature, drafters that we have in parliament, and most importantly to the Judges whose responsibility is to ensure Justice according to law.”
Speaking further, Hon Dogara said, “if you look at the Constitution, it is not something that is written on daily basis. The American Constitution for instance from where we borrowed ours has been in existence for hundreds of years that some people people still refer to it as the living document. Through inventive interpretation the Judges have ensured that the document crafted ages ago is still relevant to address the contemporary needs of the American society. Likewise, ours as well that was borrowed from theirs, through the creative and inventive interpretation of the Constitution by the judiciary. We still make of it a living document that will remain relevant now and for ages to come. This can only be the rules of interpretation of legislations as they cannot give what they don’t have.”