Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A group of elder statesmen and leaders of socio-cultural platforms in southern Nigeria have instituted a N50 billion suit against President Muhammadu Buhari at the Abuja division of the Federal High Court over alleged lopsided appointments of the administration.
In the suit filed through a consortium of lawyers comprising 10 Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs)led by Chief Solomon Asemota and Chief Mike Ozekhome, the group comprising 16 elder statesmen alleged that since the inception of the administration in 2015, President Buhari’s in his appointments had contravened the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and Federal Character Principle.
The plaintiffs alleged that the southern region had been deliberately marginalised by the President Buhari.
They prayed the court to 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 funds to the North.
They also sought a declaration that the loan facility purportedly for infrastructural development wherein less than one per cent is to be allocated to the South East zone for specific infrastructural development, violates section 16 (1) (a) (b) and S16 (2) (a) (b) (c) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
They also asked the court for a “declaration that the 1st defendant’s procurement of any loan which would increase Nigeria’s outstanding debt by up to 30 per cent of its GDP or which would increase its interest payment above 50 per cent of government revenue is unconstitutional.”
The 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.
Aside 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 further prayed 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).