President Muhammadu Buhari’s Inability To Constitute A Cabinet 25 Days After He Was Inaugurated Is Now Subject Of Litigation
Lawyer and human rights activist, Mr. Ebun Adegboruwa, has approached a Federal High Court in Lagos seeking an order restraining Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (Retd.) from continuing in office as the country’s president, stressing that by virtue of constitutional provisions the president is barred from functioning in his office without appointing ministers to constitute the Federal Executive Council.
“If the 1st Respondent (the president) is not prepared to appoint qualified persons into office as ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he should not be allowed to continue to function in office as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in flagrant violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”, the lawyer stated in a suit he filed in Lagos.
Adegboruwa, who dragged the president to court by way of an originating summons, lamented in an affidavit deposed to by him in support of his application that although the president had admitted that old age would limit his performance and had also taken his oath of office nearly 25 days ago,he had yet to appoint ministers to constitute the Federal Executive Council to assist him in navigating the ship of state. The president’s tardiness is not only unwarranted, he maintained, it also smacks of a dictatorial tendency with abrasive effect on the economy.
According to him, “The failure, neglect or refusal to appoint qualified persons into the offices of Ministers of the government of the Federation almost 25 days after the 1st Respondent assumed the office of the president is capable of collapsing the economy of this nation.”
He also noted that it was gross misnomer for the president, who was only a commissioned officer of the Nigerian army, to continue to function as a lone ranger, stressing the development was tantamount to usurping the functions of other professionals and technocrats, who ought to constitute his cabinet, such as the attorney general of the federation, among others.
He said: “It is a common knowledge that the 1st Respondent is a commissioned officer and a Retired Army General who has little or no knowledge in legal matters, financial matters, engineering, medicine, etc thus; the 1st Respondent is under a duty to prevent the ship of this nation from being grounded by immediately appointing professionals and technocrats as ministers and advisers to run the affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with him and not turn Nigeria into his private family empire, as he is currently doing.” Adegboruwa, who drew attention to reports that the president plans on having a smaller cabinet relative to those of past administrations, in contravention to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, as altered, urged the court to declare such a move an illegality and restrain the president in his track.
He said, “I verily believe that the 1st Respondent is planning to appoint lesser number of ministers contrary to the stipulation of the Constitution to appoint at least one minister from each State and the 1st Respondent has not disclosed which of the States of the Federation he intends to shortchange and it may be Ondo State where I am from or Lagos State, where I work and reside or even any other State of the Federation, unless the 1st Respondent is restrained by an order of this Honourable Court.
Stressing that the court action was instituted bona fide, the lawyer said he had nothing personal against the person of the president. For, according to him, when Gen. Buhari was to be disqualified from contesting election into the office of the President in April, he’d applied to join the said case on the side of the president in order to create a platform for him to contest the said election, which he eventually did. However, the country has since been adrift like a rudderless ship ever since his May 29 inauguration owing to his failure to promptly constitute his cabinet, the lawyer insisted, adding that the development merits the intervention of affected citizens like him, hence the action.
“Since May 29, 2015, the whole country has been in some form of confusion, everything has grounded to a halt, on account of the failure of the 1st respondent to appoint qualified persons to run the government along with him as ministers and advisers,” he posited. While formulating five issues for the court’s determination, Adegboruwa essentially sought from the court declaratory reliefs, as well as consequential and injunctive orders. The reliefs include, “A declaration that the 1st Respondent (president) being a commissioned officer of the Nigeria Army (now retired) trained strictly and only in warfare and garrison alone, is not a qualified, suitable, fit and proper person to run the affairs of The Federal Republic of Nigeria alone, without appointing qualified persons into the office of Attorney General of the Federation in compliance with Section 150 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“A declaration that under and by virtue of Section 147 of The Constitution of The Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, the 1st respondent has a duty to appoint at least one Minister from each State of the Federation of Nigeria and who shall be an indigene of such State, if he is to continue to function in office as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. On this score, the court should restrain the president from functioning as such, he stressed, praying: “An injunction restraining the 1st Respondent, from functioning or from continuing to function or further functioning in office as or from performing or continuing to perform the duties of office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, without Ministers duly appointed or the Federal Executive Council duly constituted.