Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja division of the Federal High Court has ordered the National Assembly to file its reply to the N50 billion suit filed by some senior citizens and some regional groups from South and the Middle Belt of Nigeria challenging alleged lopsided public appointments and loans expenditure under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/595/2020 was filed by humna rights activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) on behalf of the Plaintiffs, who are leaders of Ohanaeze, Afenifere, PANDEF (Pan Niger Delta Forum) and Middle Belt Forum.
Justice Okon Abang specifically gave the National Assembly a 30-day ultimatum to file its response to the suit having been joined as the fifth defendants.
He further granted leave to the Federal Government and the Attorney General of the Federation to regularise their process which were filed out of time.
The judge, thereafter, ordered that all processes relating to the suit must be filed and exchanged before the next adjourned date of January 13, 2021.
The Plaintiffs made up 16 elder statesmen reprsenting some regional pressure groups of Ohanaeze, Afenifere, PANDEF (Pan Niger Delta Forum) and Middle Belt Forum are demanding a reversal of the appointments and N50 billion in punitive, aggravated and examplary damages against the defendants for violating some relevant provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), particularly section 14(3)(4) and other laws.
It is the case of the plaintiffs that the non compliance with these provisions of the law flagrantly violated their rights, as guaranteed by the 1999 constitution and other laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The 16 elders who are led by Chief Edwin Clark are Chief Reuben Fasoranti, Dr John Nnia Nwodo, Dr Pogu Bitrus, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Alaowei Bozimo, Mrs Sarah Doketri, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, and Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga.
Other plaintiffs in the suit include Senator Koforola Bucknor-Akerele, Prof Julie Umukoro, Elder Stephen Bangoji, Alhaji Tijani Babatunde, Mrs Rose Obioforibo, Mr Adakole Ijogi and Dr Charles Nwakeaku.
They are further praying the court to determine whether: “The power to appoint designated offices 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 201`5 to date, and whether his actions are in breach of Sections 171(5),814(3) (4) of the 1999 constitution (as amended).