Some eminent socio-cultural and political leaders from the South and Middle Belt have sued President Muhammadu Buhari for N50 billion over alleged marginalisation of the people of the regions in the appointments into security, quasi-security agencies and “strategic agencies” of government by the Buhari administration.
The 16 plaintiffs, in the suit filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja on June 8, 2020, also urged the court to order Buhari “to forthwith reverse the lopsided appointments made in the public service, diplomatic service and other principal representatives of Nigeria abroad.”
They also urged the court to order Buhari to reverse “the lopsided appointments complained about in the security und quasi-security agencies and immediately take steps to appoint persons from other states and geopolitical zones in line with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Among the plaintiffs are the Ijaw leader, Chief E. K. .Clarke; Afenifere leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti; President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo; Dr John Nwodo; a leader of the Middle Belt people, Dr Pogu Bitrus; Chief Ayo Adebanjo; Alaowei Bozimo; Mrs Sarah Doketri; Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife and Air Commodore Idongsit Nkanga.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria; Buhari; the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN); the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani-Omolori, and the Federal Character Commission are the defendants in the suit.
The suit was instituted on behalf of the defendants by 10 Senior Advocates of Nigeria – Solomon Asemota; Tijani Ayanlaja; Chuks Muoma; Albert Akpomudje; Tayo Oyetibo; Pius Akubo; Mrs Nella Andem-Rabana; Mike Ozekhome; Akinpelu Onigbinde, and Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa.
“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 contended that the appointments to the positions of the country’s service chiefs were skewed in favour of northern Nigeria.
They listed some of the lopsided appointments to include, the Inspector-General of the Nigeria Police Force, the Directors General of the State Security Service, the National Intelligence Agency and the Defence Intelligence Agency.
They also listed the appointments of heads of national security-associated Federal Government establishments, such as the Nigerian Civil Defense and Security Corps; the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission; the Nigerian Customs and Excise Service; the Nigerian Immigration Services; the Nigerian Correctional Services; the National Emergency Management Authority; the National Youth Service Corps, and the National Security Adviser.
“Thus flagrant disregard for the Federal Character principle is further aggravated by the 1st defendant’s penchant to fill positions which have become vacant from time to time with persons from the preferred religion and sections of the country,” they added.
The plaintiffs presented 28 prayers including, “an order awarding the sum of N50,000,000,000 to the plaintiffs against the defendants, representing 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.”
The plaintiffs’ were represented in court by Ozekhome on Monday, but none of the defendants was represented by any lawyer.
Although Ozekhome told the judge, Justice Okon Abang, that all the defendants had been served with the court processes, the judge said there was no proof of service in the court file.
Justice Abang adjourned the case till July 10, ordering that hearing notices be issued and served on Buhari and other defendants.