The Federal High Court, Abuja will on Monday, August 19th deliver its ruling in a suit, seeking to stop President Buhari from inaugurating the 43 ministerial nominees over the exclusion of an FCT indigene from his cabinet list.
The applicant, Musa Baba-panya, who was also the counsel in the case on Thursday, August 15th approached the court with an exparte motion, asking the court to stop the president from going ahead with the inauguration.
In suit number: number: FHC/ABJ/CS/878/19, Baba-panya, who is also an indigene of Karu in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), said the president’s action was contrary to an Appeal Court judgment delivered on March 15, 2018. President Buhari is the 1st defendant while the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) is the 2nd defendant in the case.
The president will be inaugurating the 43 ministers-designate earlier confirmed by the Senate on Aug. 21. The Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation had, on Aug. 6, said that the inauguration would hold at the Federal Executive Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja. Baba-panya, who argued that the Appeal Court’s ruling was a compelling order, said it was served on the president through the AGF.
The lawyer, in an originating summons dated August 7 and filed August 8, said that ”the 43 confirmed ministerial appointees now awaiting swearing-in or inauguration as the Federal Executive Council is incomplete, illegal, unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect whatsoever. The 1st defendant stands in contempt of law and court for his brazen refusal to comply with the tenor of the Abuja Division of Court of Appeal judgment of 15/1/2018 compelling him to the immediate and forthwith appointment off an indigene of FCT, Abuja as minister of the federation,” he said.
Baba-panya, who was in court with another lawyer, Sylvanus Tanko, prayed the court to grant an interim injunction restraining the president from inaugurating the confirmed ministers-designate pending the determination of the motion on notice. He said allowing the president to go on with his decision would mean that ”he is going to constitute an illegal cabinet.”
According to him, the violation of the FCT indigene’s rights to ministerial representation has been going on since May 29, 1999. ”So it is not a personal issue. All previous presidents have also violated our rights,” he said.
He said despite the fact that President Buhari presently has 43 ministerial-designate, he was yet to meet ”the minimum requirement of the constitution which is at least one minister each from the 36 states including FCT, making a total of 37.”
The lawyer, however, wanted the court to determine ”whether 1st defendant is an offender of the Oath of Allegiance and Office, and a contemptnor of a valid court judgment and the rule of law. ”Whether 1st defendant is no longer a fit and proper person to continue holding or remain in the office as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and if so what consequences? ”Whether damages and costs are not only warranted but same are to be so awarded.”
Justice Taiwo Taiwo, therefore, ordered that the suit should commence during the vacation period of the court. The judge struck out the initial application restraining the Senate from conducting the confirmation of the ministerial nominees as prayed by the plaintiff and adjourned the matter until August 19 for ruling.