BBI: Meet Nigerian Lawyer Who Never Went to Law School But Inspired Ndii, Havi

  • A file image of Nigerian Professor Ben Nwabueze
    A file image of Nigerian Professor Ben Nwabueze
  • Economist David Ndii and his team comprising activist Jerotich Seii, James Gondi, Wanjiru Gikonyo hope to convince the Supreme Court to once again nullify the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) like the High Court and Court of Appeal. 

    The apex court convened under Chief Justice Martha Koome on Tuesday, January 18 and will listen to the case for 3 days. 

    Ndii's team - represented by former Law Society of Kenya President, Nelson Havi - cited the work of renowned Nigerian scholar Professor Ben Nwabueze in their presentations. 

    Their submissions and success are anchored on Nwabueze's legal writing- a strong authority on law and constitutionalism in Africa. 

    Economist and political activist David Ndii

    "Nwabueze Ben's Constitutionalism in Emergent States is, I would think, required reading in jurisprudence/Constitutional Law in Africa," Ndii previously stated.

    "It is submitted on behalf of the first to the fifth respondents that there is a clear dichotomy between the power of amendment and disbarment of the constitution. The distinction between the two has been extensively made by Prof Ben Nwabueze in the chapter titled Presidentialism and constituent power," Havi added while presenting his argument that certain clauses of the constitution cannot be amended.

    Nwabueze's legal writings are intriguing. So is the man.  

    Born in December 1932 in Atani, Nigeria, the professor rose to become a leading expert in Constitutional Law in Africa. His academic pursuit began in Nigeria before he relocated to the United Kingdom (UK) to advance his studies in Economics and Political Science at the University of London in 1956.

    Nwabueze became a senior lecturer at the Holborn College of Law based in London and University of Nigeria Nsukka. Further, he became the dean at the faculty of Law at the University of Zambia between 1973 to 1975.

    At the time, he was fond of academics and writing of scholarly articles and books. 

    Interestingly, Nwabueze earned his Doctor of Laws (LLD) at the University of London in 1978, based on his three books- Constitutionalism, Presidentialism and Judicialism.

    By achieving this feat,  the scholar became the only African holder of a higher doctorate degree in Law on the basis of his published books.

    He also became a member of the Senates of various universities in Africa including the Lagos, Dar-es-salaam, Nairobi Universities, and other institutions in Ethiopia Lesotho, Botswana and Swaziland.

    His books and articles contributed to the application of Constitutional Law and the broader process of governance in Nigeria.  Nwabueze authored over thirty books and wrote more than 200 articles in academic journals.

    He also advocated against military rule in solving a country's problems. The professor noted that military rule destroyed the rule of law, civil liberties, efficient and effective administration of the Nigerian people. 

    "With few exceptions, the military has consistently squandered public goodwill and resources on ill-conceived and badly implemented programs," read part of his book titled Military Rule and Constitutionalism in Nigeria.

    Nwabueze still actively participates in law and governance issues in Nigeria. 

    The 5-judge bench which declared BBI as null and void, on Thursday, May 13, 2021