Southern, Middle Belt leaders drag Buhari to Court over lopsided appointments

President Muhammadu Buhari

Prominent leaders from Southern Nigeria and the Middle Belt have dragged President Muhammadu Buhari to court over what they called lopsided appointments in his administration.

The leaders are seeking N50 billion for the marginalization of Southern Nigeria and the Middle Belt into security, quasi-security agencies and “strategic agencies” of government.

Some of the leaders who are part of the suit include Pan Niger Delta Forum(PANDEF) leader, Chief Edwin Clark, Afenifere leaders, Cheif Rueben Fasoranti, President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Dr John Nwodo, a leader of the Middle Belt people, Dr. Pogu Bitrus.

Others are Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Alaowei Bozimo, Mrs Sarah Doketri, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Air Commodore Idongsit Nkanga, a former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele, Prof Julie Umukoro, and Elder Stephen Bangoji.

The rest are Alhaji Tijani Babatunde, Mrs Rose Obuoforibo, Mr Adakole Ijogi, and Dr. Charles Nwakeaku.

The plaintiffs in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/595/2020 are suing Buhari for allegedly violating provisions of the 1999 Constitution and the Federal Character Principle.

The Federal Republic of Nigeria, Buhari, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani-Omolori and the Federal Character Commission are the defendants sued in the suit.

Some of the questions for determination are “Whether the power to appoint designated public officers including permanent secretaries, principal representatives of Nigeria abroad, which is vested in the 1st Defendant has been lawfully exercised by him since the inception of his administration from 2015 till date and Whether his actions are in breach of Sections 171(5), 814(3) (4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

“Whether the power to appoint Nigeria’s Armed Services Chiefs, other Commanders or top officials of the respective Armed Forces Higher and High Commands’ General Staff ; namely the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) and Chief of Airforce Staff (CA8); the other statutorily established Nigerian National Security agencies or services , namely: The Inspector General of the Nigerian Police (1GP), the Directors General (DGs) of the State Security Service (SSS), National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA); the Heads of National Security Associated Federal Government (FG) establishments, namely the Nigerian Civil Defence and Security Corps (NCDSC), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Nigerian Customs and Excise Service, the Nigerian Immigration Services (NIS), the Nigerian Correctional Services (NCS), the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA), the National Youth Service corps (NYSC), the National Security Adviser (NSA), the Ministers of Defence, Interior, Police and the respective National Security ministries’ Permanent Secretaries’ which is vested in the 1st Defendant, has been lawfully exercised by the 1st Defendant since the inception of his administration and whether these appointments are in compliance with 81(2), 814(3)(4), 8217(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

“Whether by virtue of Section 5 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which vests the Executive arm of government with a constitutional responsibility and obligation to execute and uphold the tenets of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), particularly the country’s national interest, sovereignty and security is not violated by the lopsided nature of the current appointments into Federal agencies are parastatals made by the 1st Defendant.

“Whether the 1st Defendant’s frequent arbitrary extension/elongation of appointment tenure beyond statutory prescription is not unconstitutional and inimical to the well being, morale and harmony within the government workforce?

“Whether the 1st Defendant’s frequent appointment of retired persons instead of the most senior staff, is unconstitutional and tantamount to an abuse of office and threat to national unity?