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16 Southern leaders drag Buhari, Malami, others to court for lopsided appointments, developments

A group of southern elders and leaders of socio-cultural groups in the region have dragged President Muhammadu Buhari before a Federal High Court, Abuja, demanding N50bn over what they termed lopsided appointments and developments in the country.
In the suit filed, Monday, by counsel to the plaintiffs, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), the group alleged that since the inception of his administration in 2015, president Buhari’s appointments have contravened the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and the Federal Character Principle.
The 16 elders listed in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/595/2020 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.
They are alleging that the Southern region has been deliberately short- changed by the Buhari-led administration.
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 $22.7bn, for infrastructural development, only to allocate the bulk of the funds 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).
They are also demanding “A declaration that the 1st defendant’s procurement of any loan which would increase Nigeria’s outstanding debt by up to 30% of its GDP or which would increase its interest payment above 50% of government revenue is unconstitutional”.
Apart from President Buhari, also listed as 2nd to 4th defendants in the matter are the Attorney-General of the Federation, Clerk of National Assembly, and the Federal Character Commission.
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 Defence Staff (CDS), Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) and Chief of Air Force 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 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).
“A declaration that because the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is not suspended; it must be obeyed and adhered to.
“A declaration that Nigeria is a federal system of government, with federating states, and a Federal Capital Territory in accordance with Section 2(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). Therefore, any system of governance operated contrary or inconsistent with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) shall be deemed unconstitutional or illegal.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the Defendants, whether by themselves, servants, agents and/or privies, howsoever, from further appointing persons from only favoured sections of the country as Heads of key government positions and security and quasi security agencies of Nigeria to the detriment and exclusion of other sections of the country.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the Defendants, whether by themselves, servants, agents and their privies howsoever, from further violating the Public Service Rules 2008 and Armed Forces Act 2004 by extending tenures of personnel who have reached retirement age in accordance with the law.
“An order directing the 1st Defendant to forthwith revert the lopsided appointments complained about in the security and quasi security agencies and immediately take steps to appoint persons from other states and geopolitical zones, in line with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.
“An order directing the 1st Defendant to forthwith reverse the lopsided appointments made in the public service, diplomatic service and other principal Representatives of Nigeria abroad.
“An order suspending any further admission of Africans into Nigeria without e-visas, the requisite visas or e-migrant visas, until the adequate border control guidelines, training and bilateral reciprocity and waivers are agreed upon”.
They urged the court to award N50bn 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 against the people of the plaintiffs’ states and geopolitical zones.
Meanwhile, Justice Okon Abang fixed July 10 to hear the matter.
He directed Chief Ozekhome to serve the court processes on all the defendants before the adjourned date.
SOURCE :BUSINESS DAY

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