INTERPRETATION OF STATUTE – RULES OF INTERPRETATION OF STATUTE – Guiding principles in interpretation of statutes or the Constitution

“There are legion of cases of this Court on the rules guiding the Court when faced with a question predicated on interpretation of statutes. The law is well settled that for the interpretation of the statutes, once the words used are clear and free from ambiguity, they should be accorded their natural meaning without any embellishments. On the cardinal principle governing the interpretation of constitutional provisions, this Court, per Oguntade JSC, in the case of Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja v. INEC (2007) LPELR-1738(SC), (2007) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1047) 115 held that: “In interpreting a provision of the Constitution, the primary function of the Court is to search for the intention of the lawmaker. Where a constitutional provision is clear and unambiguous, the Court must give the words their ordinary meaning unless it will lead to absurdity and inconsistency with the provisions of the Constitution as a whole. The true meaning of the words used and the intention of the legislature in a Constitution can be best properly understood if the Constitution is considered as a whole. It is a single document and every part of it must be considered as far as relevant in order to get the true meaning and intent of any particular portion of the enactment. Also a Constitution must be interpreted and applied liberally. It must always be construed in such a way that it protects what it sets out to protect or guides what it sets out to guide. By necessity a constitutional provision must be interpreted broadly…” See also Hon. Micheal Dapianlong & Ors. v. Chief (Dr.) Joshua Chibi Dariye & Anor (2007) LPELR – 928(SC), (2007) 8 NWLR (Pt. 1036) 332; Bola Tinubu v. I.M.B. Securities Plc (2001) LPELR – 3248 (SC), (2001) 16 NWLR (Pt.740) 670. I should bear in mind that where the words of the legislature are clear, there is no room for applying any of the principles of interpretation. It is very clear that where the words used in expressing the intention of the legislature in the above provision are plain and unambiguous, in interpreting the Constitution, the Court must endeavor to give the words used in the Constitution or statute its ordinary meaning unless such interpretation will lead to absurdity or inconsistency with the rest of the legislation.” Per ADAMU JAURO, JSC in AGUMA v. APC & ORS (2021-LCER-40458-SC) (Pp 40 – 42 Paras C – B)

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