Billy Graham Abel Yola
Former adviser to former vice president Atiku Abubakar, Umar Ardo, has described the planned conferment of national honours to MKO Abiola, Babagana kingibe, and Gani Fawehinmi as illegal and an indulgence in flagrant illegality by the presidency.
Citing the federal constitution, Ardo argued that the president has no power to confer national honours on anyone without first seeking for and obtaining the approval of the National Council of State.
Ardo made the remarks in statement made available to Daily Sun on Sunday.
The statement reads:
“Pursuant to the powers of the Council of State in section 6(a)(iii) of Part 1 to the Third Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) to advise the president on the matter of awarding National Honours, I call on President Mohammadu Buhari to immediately convene a meeting of the National Council of State to deliberate and advise him on his decision to award National Honours to the Late Chief MKO Abiola, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe and Chief Gani Fawehinmi before performing the planned investiture ceremony on Tuesday, this is simply to comply with due process of law.
“Driven by the need to determine whether in the president’s decision to confer the said national awards constitutional due process of law had been followed, I telephoned and asked a former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and a serving Member of the Council whether to the best of his knowledge the issue had at any time been raised in any of the meetings of the Council of State and the advice of the said Council sought and obtained, he informed me and I verily believe him that it was never ever raised nor the advice of the Council ever sought or obtained.
“Therefore to go ahead and perform the investiture ceremony as planned is to indulge in flagrant illegality.”
He former adviser argued that: “Having campaigned on, sworn-in and is on oath to govern this country in accordance with the provisions of the constitution and due process of law and to defend and protect the said constitution, the president cannot confer national awards on the Late Chief MKO Abiola, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe and Chief Gani Fawehinmi or anyone else without subjecting his decision to the advice of the Council of State as stipulated in the constitution.
“To do so is a breach not only of the constitution but also of the oath sworn to by the president and that is unacceptable.”
“Consequently, in pursuit of my civil right and obligation as a citizen that I am governed by the provisions of the Constitution, I will institute a court action demanding compliance with the provisions of the constitution in the award of the said National Honours if the government goes ahead with the investiture ceremony without abiding by the due process of law.”
Umar Ardo explained that: “It is important, however, to state here that I have absolutely no objection to the president conferring such national honours to Late Chief MKO Abiola and Chief Gani Fawehinmi, and, indeed, that they richly deserve such awards and much more, but it is only right to do the right thing rightly.
“My current call and possible court action is solely motivated by the obligation to enforce the rule of law and constitutionalism in the process of governing this country.”