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National Assembly joined in suit against Buhari’s ‘lopsided jobs’


By Eric Ikhilae, Abuja

A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the inclusion of the National Assembly as a defendant in a suit some Southern leaders filed against President Muhammadu Buhari and three others over alleged discrimination in his appointments into key positions and use of externally obtained loans to infrastructure development.

In a ruling on Wednesday, Justice Okon Abang ordered that the National Assembly be joined as the fifth defendant in the suit.

The judge also ordered the plaintiffs to amend their processes to reflect the new party and ensure the service on the new defendant.

The ruling was on an application filed on October 2, 2020, by the plaintiffs, who claimed, among others, that the National Assembly is a necessary party to the suit because its “rights and responsibilities are affected by the questions raised for determination”.

The judge, in another ruling, granted the request by the President, named as the first defendants, and the Attorney General of the Federation as the second defendant, for an extension of time to file their responses to the suit.

Justice Abang adjourned till January 28, 2021 for hearing.

Other defendants in the suit are the Clerk of the National Assembly and the Federal Character Commission (FCC).

The plaintiffs, in the suit marked, FHC/ABJ/CS/595/2020, claimed that the Southern region of the country has been deliberately marginalised by the President Buhari-led government in its appointment and infrastructure distribution.

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.

Adebanjo, Nwodo, and Bucknor-Akerele, witnssed Wednesday’s proceedings. Also in court was a spokesperson for the Afenifere Renewal Group, Yinka Odunmakin.

It is the plaintiffs’ contention that “under the current first defendant’s (Buhari’s) administration which has been in power since May 29, 2015, several sensitive government positions and agencies are dominated by persons of the same ethnic and religious group, state and geographical zones,” the lawyers argued.

They argued that the appointments to the positions of the country’s service chiefs were skewed in favour of northern Nigeria.

The plaintiff added that “other statutorily established Nigerian national Security agencies or services”, “are a clear violation of the federal character principle”.

They want the court to, among others, declare that the loan facility purportedly for infrastructural development wherein less than 1 per cent of the amount is to be allocated to the Southeast Zone of Nigeria for specific infrastructural development, violates sections16 (1) (a) (b) and 16 (2) (a) (b) (c) of the Constitution.

The plaintiff is seeking a declaration that the first defendant’s (Buhari’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 ccent of government revenue, is unconstitutional.

They are equally praying the court urged to award N50 billion against the defendants to represent punitive, aggravated and exemplary damages to the constituents of the plaintiffs for the illegal, wrongful discriminatory and unconstitutional acts committed by the 1st defendant against the people of the plaintiffs’ states and geopolitical zones.

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