eaders of socio-cultural groups in the Southern part of Nigeria, yesterday, slammed a N50 billion suit against President Muhammadu Buhari before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.
The Southern leaders alleged thatmost appointments since the inception of Buhari administration in 2015, were in breach of the 1999 Constitution and the Federal Character Principle.
The plaintiffs are: Chief Edwin Clark (South-South), Chief Reuben Fasoranti (Afenifere), Dr. John Nnia Nwodo (Ohanaeze), Dr. Pogu Bittus, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Alaowei Bozimo, Mrs. Sarah Doketri, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife and Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga.
Other plaintiffs in the suit are Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele, Prof. Julie Umukoro, Elder Stephen Bangoji, Alhaji Tijani Babatunde, Mrs. Rose Obuoforibo, Mr. Adakole Ijogi and Dr. Charles Nwakeaku.
The plaintiffs filed the suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/595/2020, through a consortium of lawyers comprising 10 Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) led by Chief Solomon Asemota (SAN) and Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN).
Aside from President Buhari, also listed as 2nd to 4th Defendants in the matter are the Attorney-General of the Federation, Clerk of the National Assembly, and the Federal Character Commission (FCC).
In the suit, the plaintiffs alleged that the Southern Nigeria has been deliberately marginalized by the Buhari-led government.
They are, however, praying the court to, among other things, 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, for infrastructural development, only to allocate the bulk of the fund to the North.
They are, however, seeking a declaration that the loan facility purportedly for infrastructural development wherein less than one per cent of the amount is to be allocated to the South-East Zone of Nigeria for specific infrastructural development, violates section 16 (1) (a) (b) and S16 (2) (a) (b) (c) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
They equally pray the court to declare that the 1st Defendant’s procurement of any loan which would increase Nigeria’s outstanding debt by up to 30% of its GDP or which would increase its interest payment above 50% of government revenue is unconstitutional.”
The plaintiffs want 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).
They also want the court to determine whether the power to appoint Nigeria’s Services Chiefs, other commanders or top officials of the respective Armed Forces Higher and High Commands’ General Staff; namely the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) and Chief of Air Staff (CAS); the other statutorily established Nigerian national security agencies or services, namely: The Inspector General of Police (IGP), the Directors General (DGs) of the State Security Services (SSS), National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA); the heads of national security establishments, namely the Nigerian Civil Defence and Security Corps (NCDSC), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Nigerian Customs and Excise Service, the Nigerian Immigration Services (NIS), the Nigerian Correctional Services (NCS), the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA), the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), the National Security Adviser (NSA), the Ministers of Defence, Interior, Police and the respective National Security ministries’ Permanent Secretaries which is vested in the 1st Defendant, has been lawfully exercised by the 1st Defendant since the inception of his administration and whether these appointments are in compliance with S1(2), S14(3)(4), S217(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
They prayed the court 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.
Meanwhile, the trial Judge, Justice Okon Abang later fixed July 10 for hearing of the matter.
He further directed Ozekhome who appeared for the plaintiffs to serve the court processes on all the Defendants.