From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The South East has approached a Federal High Court in Abuja, to challenge President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation, for failing to appoint a member from the zone as replacement to Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, for the position of director general of National Pension Commission (PENCOM).
The action of the zone is contained in a suit filed before the court marked FHC/ABJ/CS/371/17, where in it is contending that the replacement of the immediate past director general of PENCOM with another person outside the zone constitutes a breach of the oath of office of the President under Section 26 (1) of the 7th schedule to the 1999 Constitution.
The suit, which was filed by Giles C. Ugwunweze, the South-East Coalition for Justice and Equity (SECJE) and Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) is seeking an order of court directing the President (1st defendant), to appoint a director general for the National Pension Commission from the South-East geo-political zone in accordance with Section 21 (2) of the Pension Reform Act, 2014.
Already, hearing in the suit has been adjourned to October 23, 2017 as the court presided by Justice John Tsoho did not sit yesterday.
The plaintiffs were represented in court by Stephen Oluebube, F.I Nwodo, S.N Ezeora and Anthony Ojeh who appeared as legal representatives.
The suit is further praying for an order setting aside the appointment of Aliyu Abdul Rahman Dikko and Aisha Dahir-Umar by the President.
Besides, they urged the court to hold that upon the proper construction and interpretation of Section 21 (2) of the Pension Reform Act, 2014 the replacement of Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu from Anambra State in the South-East geo-political zone of Nigeria with Aliyu Abdurahman Dikko from the North-West geo-political zone of Nigeria is illegal, null and void.
The plaintiffs are further seeking for the determination of the question of construction of Sections 19(5)(a), 21 (1) (j) and 21 (2) of the Pension Reform Act, 2014 as amended and Section 171 of the Constitution of Nigeria, 1999.
Whether in the replacement of the director-general of the National Pension Commission (PENCOM), who is of South-East Origin, under Section 21 (2) of the Pension Reform Act, 2014 pursuant to Section 21 (j) and having regards to the relevant provisions of the Constitution of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the 1st defendant is restricted to the geo-political zone of the immediate past director-general that vacated office to complete the remaining tenure?
Whether having regard to Section 19 (5)(a) of the Pension Reform Act, 2014, Dikko Abdulrahman, as the pioneer managing director and chairman, Board of Directors of Premium Pension Limited, a licensed Pension Fund Administrator, is not disqualified from holding of office as the director general of PENCOM?
Whether having regard to Section 21 (2) of the Pension Reform Act, 2014, the appointment of the 4th defendant to head the National Pension Commission in acting capacity is not contrary to the provisions of the Pension Reform Act and therefore illegal?
If the answers to questions 1, 2, 3 and 4 are in the affirmative, whether the appointment of Abdulrahman and the appointment of Aisha Dahir-Umar are according to law and whether they constitute a breach of the Oath of Office of the 1st defendant under Section 26 (1) Seventh Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, which is the oath of office of the President?
Whether upon a proper construction and interpretation of Section 171 of the 1999 Constitution the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria possess the power to remove his appointees made pursuant to an Act of the National Assembly whose appointment and removal are not at the pleasure of the President and whose tenure of offices are statutory and do not cease with expiration of the tenure of office of the President?
The South- East is urging the court for a declaration that the appointment of the 3rd Defendant by the 1st Defendant or the appointment of any other person not from the South-East Geopolitical Zone in substantive or acting capacity as replacement for the immediate past Director-General of the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) to complete her remaining tenure is not in compliance with Section 21 (2) of Pension Reform Act, 2014 and is therefore, illegal, null and void.
A declaration that the 1st defendant is bound by the provisions of Section 21 (2) of the Pension Reform Act, 2014 and the Constitution of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) to appoint a person from the South-East Geopolitical Zone, as a replacement for the removed Director General of PENCOM, to complete her remaining tenure.
It further asked the court to declare that Dikko is disqualified from holding the office of the Director-General of the PENCOM by virtue of the provisions of Sections 19(5) (a) and 21 (2) of the Pension Reform Act, 2014.
That the appointment of the 3rd Defendant by Buhari constitutes a breach of the Oath of Office of the president under the Seventh Schedule of Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria promulgation Decree No. 24 of 1999.
In the suit supported by a 20 paragraphs affidavit, the plaintiffs strongly argued that
the appointment of a Director of PENCOM from North West geo-political zone to replace a Director General from the South East geo-political zone by a method or procedure not provided for under the Pension Reform Act, 2014, constitutes a breach of oath of office of the president in section 26 seventh schedule of the 1999 constitution.
That the president did not comply with the mandatory provisions of law in the appointment of Dikko going by section 21 (2) of the Pension Reform Act, 2014 as amended provides that “In the event of vacancy, the president shall appoint a replacement from the geo-political zone of the immediate past member that vacated office to complete the remaining