By Ameh Ejekwonyilo
President Muhammad Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), have been dragged before the Federal High Court in Abuja over alleged lopsidedness in key government appointments and award of infrastructure contracts.
In the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/595/2020, the group comprising elder statesmen from the Southern region of the country, is demanding the sum of N50 billion as compensation for Buhari’s alleged breach of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and the Federal Character Principle.
The group through its lead counsel, Chief Mike Ozokhome (SAN), accused the President of persistent violation of the Federal Character Commission Act that ensures equitable distribution of political appointments.
The elders mentioned in the case include: Chief Edwin Clark, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, Dr. John Nnia Nwodo, Dr. Pogu Bittus, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Alaowei Bozimo, Mrs Sarah Doketri, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife and Air Commodore Idongsit Nkanga.
Others are Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele, Prof Julie Umukoro, Elder Stephen Bangoji, Alhaji Tijani Babatunde, Mrs. Rose Obuoforibo, Mr Adakole Ijogi and Dr. Charles Nwakeaku.
The plaintiffs further alleged that the Southern region has been deliberately sidelined by the Buhari-led government.
They are praying the court to among other things, determine whether it was not “reckless and adverse to the interest of Nigeria”, for President Buhari to obtain a loan facility from the Islamic Development Bank, African Development Bank, the World Bank, China,
Japan, and Germany amounting to $22.7 billion (USD), for infrastructural development, only to allocate the bulk of the fund to the Northern region.
They are seeking a declaration that the loan facility purportedly for infrastructural development wherein less than 1% of the amount is to be allocated to the South East Zone of Nigeria for specific infrastructural development, violates section 16 (1) (a) (b) and S16 (2) (a) (b) (c) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
Also listed as defendants in the suit are: the Attorney General of the Federation, Clerk of National Assembly, and the Federal Character Commission.
Specifically, the plaintiffs, in the suit they filed through a consortium of lawyers comprising of 10 Senior Advocates of Nigeria led by Chief Solomon Asemota, SAN, and Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, are further praying the court to determine:
“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 Defense 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 Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA); the Heads of National Security Associated Federal Government (FG) establishments, namely the Nigerian Civil Defense 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 Defense,
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).
The plaintiffs urged the trial judge, Justice Okom Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, to award the sum of N50 billion against the defendants to represent punitive, aggravated and exemplary damages to the constituents of the Plaintiffs for the illegal, wrongful discriminatory and unconstitutional acts committed by the 1st defendant (Buhari) against the people of the Plaintiffs’ states and geopolitical zones.
Subsequently, Justice Abang has adjourned the suit till July 10 to hear the case.
The judge directed Ozekhome, who represented the plaintiffs on Monday to serve the court processes on all the defendants.