…demands 50 billion for damages for unconstitutional acts
By Anayo Ezugwu
SOME prominent Nigerians have dragged President Muhammadu Buhari, the attorney general of the federation, the National Assembly, and Federal Character Commission to Federal High Court, Abuja, over alleged breach of the 1999 Constitution provisions. They prayed the court to issue an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from further appointing persons from one section of the country.
The plaintiffs, in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/595/2020 filed before the court by Edwin K. Clark, former minister of information and leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, John Nnia Nwodo, national president of the Ohaneze Ndigbo, Ayo Adebanjo, national leader of Afenifere, a pan-Yoruba group, Pogu Bitrus, national president of the Middle Belt Forum, and 12 others through their lawyers led by Mike Ozekhome, SAN, said the first defendant failed to adhere to the federal character principles in appointing heads of federal government agencies, parastatals, including heads of military and security agencies since 2015.
They are asking the court to declare that the principles of separation of powers which are enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution in accordance with section 1(1), 4, 5, and 6 of the 1999 Constitution as amended must be strictly adhered to.
According to the affidavit on the originating summons signed by 16 lawyers led by Ozekhome, the plaintiffs stated that “any action by either arm of the government that is inconsistent with 1999 Constitution should be voided. Therefore, the plaintiffs want the court to declare that “the executive powers to make appointments that have been exercised by first defendant from 2015 till date into key government positions such as permanent secretary cadre, head of extra-ministerial departments of federal government, principal representatives of Nigeria abroad etc, violated the constitutional requirements of compliance with federal character principle in accordance with section 14(3)(4) and 171(5) 0f the 1999 Constitution as amended whereby persons from a few states and ethnic sectional groups are appointed at the expense of national unity and loyalty.”
They also want the court to declare that “the present composition of the government of the federation, and most of its agencies especially as regards the composition of its security and quasi-security architecture do not reflect the federal character of Nigeria but rather “there is a predominance of persons from a few states and sectional groups dominating the opportunities and threatening national unity and integration.”
They also want they court to declare “that the various appointments into positions in government, especially into strategic government agencies such as NNPC, NIA and other strategic infrastructural and regulatory institutions are ethnically discriminatory and lopsided and these violate the express provisions of the constitution as contained in section 14, 171(1), 171(5) of the 1999 Constitution as amended and there unconstitutional, illegal and ultra vires.”
The plaintiffs also want the court to issue “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. They noted that one section of the country heads key government positions and security and quasi-security agencies of Nigeria to the detriment and exclusion of other sections of the nation.”
Other reliefs they are asking the court are: “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 first defendant to forthwith revert the lopsided appointments complained about in the security and quasi-security agencies and immediately takes 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. An order awarding the sum of N50 billion to the plaintiffs against the defendants, representing punitive, aggravated and exemplary damages to the constituents of the plaintiffs for the illegal, wrongful discriminatory and unconstitutional act committed by the first defendant against the people of the plaintiffs’ states and geopolitical zones.”
The plaintiffs noted that the founding fathers of the country thought it wise to entrench the principle of federal character to guarantee a stable and harmonious society, where all groups are guaranteed a sense of belonging, inclusion and participation. It stated that the principle of federal character is a legal mechanism put in place to prevent the domination by one or some ethnic groups in governance and activities of the government to the exclusion of other ethnic groups.
Other plaintiffs include Reuben Fasoranti, leader, Afenifere; Alaowei Brodericks Bozimo, former minister of police affairs; Sarah Doketri, Chukwuemaka Ezeife, former governor of Anambra State; Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele, former deputy governor of Lagos State, Prof. Julie Umukoro, Elder Staphen Bangoji, Tijani Babatunde, Rose Obuoforibo, Adakole Ijogi and Charles Nwakeaku.
– Jun. 22, 2020 @ 17:59 GMT |