Abiola Honours: “I Respectfully Disagree on Legality of Honours” – Ex NBA Vice President, Akaraiwe, Replies Justice Belgore
On the heels of the political master stroke of an otherwise mediocre regime in declaring June 12 as authentic Democracy Day, and conferring posthumous National Honours upon two deserving icons Messrs. MKO Abiola and Gani Fawehinmi, former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Alfa Belgore is reported to have said that the posthumous awards have no place in our law.
Having examined the National Honours Act, 1963, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, and seeing no provision circumscribing the award of national honours to the living; I am led to the question whether CJN-Emeritus Belgore has access to another piece of legislation categorically limiting National Honours to the living or if My Lord Emeritus is reading Art. 3 (2) requiring the awardee to attend the ceremony to mean that the award is circumscribed to the living and not the dead?
Art. 3(2) of the Act provides thus:
“Subject to the next following paragraph of this article, a person shall be appointed to a particular rank of an Order when he receives from the President IN PERSON, at an investiture held for the purpose.”
While Art. 3 (3) of the Act empowers the President to dispense with the requirement of the honouree attending the award ceremony in person thus:
“If in the case of any person it appears to the President expedient to dispense with the requirements of paragraph (2) of this article, he may direct that that person shall be appointed to the rank in question in such a manner as may be specified in the direction.”
Perhaps, the learned Chief Justice Emeritus has legislation I am not privy to, but if his lordship is relying upon the extant National Honours Act to hold that the presidential proposition to give posthumous National Honours to Messrs MKO Abiola and Gani Fawehinmi is illegal, I respectfully beg to differ.
President Buhari got this one right. My view.
(1st VP NBA 2008-2010)