THE hue and cry over President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointments so far has taken a fresh dimension with a lawyer asking a Federal High Court to order the President to nullify the appointments.The lawyer, Marcel Dim-Udebuani, in suit no FHC/ABJ/CS/732/2015, before the Federal High Court,Abuja, accused Buhari of allegedly breaching Nigeria’s federal character principle in his appointment of persons into key positions under his administration.
Dim-Udebuani joined the Chairman of the Federal Character Commission as the co-defendant.
He anchored his suit on the grounds “that the Federal Republic of Nigeria is a country for all the citizens, South-East inclusive.”
The lawyer hails from Nnewi North Local Government Area of Anambra State.
He contended that the 25 appointments made so far by the President were in breach of the spirit of federal character enshrined in section 14 (3) of 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Buhari’s last set of appointments announced last week has drawn strong criticism from many Nigerians, who accused the President of appointing mainly people from the Northern part of the country.
Buhari is from Katsina State in the North-West geo-political zone of the country.
The President had on August 27 approved the appointment of Babachir David Lawal from Adamawa State as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
He also named Mr. Abba Kyari from Borno state as his Chief of Staff.
Other appointments approved by the President included those of Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (retd.) as the new Comptroller-General, Nigerian Customs Service; Mr. Kure Martin Abeshi, Comptroller-General, Nigerian Immigration Service; Senator Ita Enang, Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters (Senate); and Suleiman Kawu as SSA on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives).
Both Ali and Kawu are from Kano State and Abeshi is from Nasarawa. Enang from Akwa Ibom State is the only southerner among the new appointees.
So far, no person from the South-East zone has been appointed into any position by the Buhari administration.
The plaintiff in the fresh suit prayed the court to reverse all the appointments the President had made so far.
Part of the questions he raised before the court include, “whether the total of the 25 appointments made so far by the 1st defendant (Buhari) is not against the spirit of Section 14 (3) of 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Whether the exclusion of South-East geo-political zone in the 25 appointments made so far by the 1st defendant is unconstitutional and divisive among others.”
The lawyer is therefore asking the court for an order compelling the Buhari “to reverse the appointments so far made to observe and comply with the principle of Federal Character as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).”
His other prayers also read in part, “An order of this court compelling the 2nd defendant (FCC) to invoke paragraph 8 (1) (C) of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
“An order of court declaring all the appointments so far made null and void for violation of the principle of Federal Character enshrined in our constitution aforesaid.”
He contended that the FCC was a creation of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria and that “the entire five states that make up South-East geo-political zone have no appointment yet”.
He pointed out that the North-East, North-West, North-Central, South-West and South-South had had representations in the appointments made so far.
In an affidavit in support of the originating summons, the plaintiff said the President swore to defend and protect the nation’s Constitution and that obedience to the Constitution ought to be reflected in the appointments made by Buhari.
He argued that it would be “in the best interest of justice and promotion of rule of law that the alleged lopsided appointments should be discouraged by granting all the prayers before the court”.
No date has been fixed for the hearing.
Before his latest appointments, the President had also chosen only one southerner among the initial nine appointees he earlier named.
The northerners in the first appointments include the Director-General of the State Services, Lawal Daura; Acting Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mrs. Amina Zakari; the Director, Department of Petroleum Resources, Mr. Mordecai Danteni Baba Ladan; and the Accountant-General of the Federation, Alhaji Ahmed Idris.
Also in the first appointments were the President’s Chief Security Officer, Abdulrahman Mani; State Chief of Protocol, Mallam Abdullahi Kazaure; Aide- De-Camp, Lt. Col. Muhammed Abubakar; and the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu.
All are northerners with only the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, who hailed from Osun State being a southerner.