PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari may be prevented from swearing in his ministers of August 21 as planned if an Abuja high court ruled against the government in a suit filed by an Abuja lawyer who objects to the fact that there is no representative of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on the list.
Nigeria’s constitution compels the president to nominate at least one person from each of the 36 states and the FCT. President Buhari has forwarded a list of 43 ministerial nominees to the senate who have all been screened and waiting to be sworn-in on August 21 but there is no candidate from the FCT on the list.
As a result, Abuja lawyer Musa Babapanya, who is an indigene of Karu in the FCT, has taken the president to court, saying his action runs contrary to an Appeal Court judgment delivered on March 15, 2018. In his suit filed before an Abuja division of the Federal High Court, Mr Babapanya is seeking to stop President Muhammadu Buhari from inaugurating the 43-man list of ministers.
In his suit, President Buhari is the first defendant while the attorney-general of the federation is the second defendant. Mr Babapanya, who argued that the Appeal Court’s ruling was a compelling order, said it was served on the president through the attorney-general’s office.
Mr Babapanya said: “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 first 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 asked the court to grant an interim injunction restraining the president from inaugurating the confirmed ministers-designate pending the determination of the motion on notice. According to Mr Babapanya, allowing the president to go on with his decision would mean that he is going to constitute an illegal cabinet.
Mr Babapanya said the violation of the FCT indigene’s rights to ministerial representation has been going on since May 29, 1999. He added that all previous presidents have also violated their rights.