Federal Character: Court lacks powers to challenge FG appointments — Minister

Posted by News Express | 14 July 2020 | 1,031 times

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•Minister of Police Affairs, Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi



The Minister of Police Affairs, Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi, has asked a federal court not to entertain the suit filed by the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) over the appointment of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Board of Trustees on the ground that it lacks the constitutional powers to intervene on issues bordering on Federal Character.

Other defendants in the suit are the Attorney-General of the Federation, Nigeria Police Council, Nigeria Police Trust Fund and Federal Character Commission Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission.

President Muhammdu Buhari had on May 6 approved the appointment of seven persons as members of the Board of Trustees of the Nigerian Police Trust Fund. The members include Abba Suleiman from Jigawa State as Chairman; Ahmed Aliyu Sokoto from Sokoto State as Executive Secretary; Mr Nnamdi Maurice Mbaeri (Imo State); Usman Bilkisu (Kebbi State); Ben Akabueze (Anambra State); Mansur Ahmed (Kano State) and Michael B. Adebiyi from Ekiti State.

But in the suit, the plaintiffs including Emmanuel Onwubiko and Oniegieofori George frowned at the appointment on the ground that it did not reflect the Federal Character Principle.

Specifically, they noted that four members of the board including the chairman, secretary and other two members are from North-West Geo-political zone of the country.

According to them, ‘the Minister of Police Affairs, Mr Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi, is also from Sokoto State where the Executive Secretary of the Board, Mr Aliyu Sokoto also hails from.

‘Thus, the Minister of Police Affairs, Executive Secretary and Chairman designate of the Board who form the leadership of the agency are of the same ethnic, or Zonal and or sectional group,’ the plaintiffs noted.

They are asking the court to set aside the ‘appointment’ by the Federal Government as well as the directive issued to the third defendant (Minister of Police Affairs) to set a date for the inauguration of the Board for undermining due process of law.

In addition, the plaintiffs are also seeking an order directing the federal government to immediately reconstitute the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Board of Trustees to reflect the federal character of Nigeria, especially in its leadership consisting of Chairman, Executive Secretary and other members of the Board in such a manner as to prevent the predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups or zones.

But in its notice of preliminary objection, the Minister of Police Affairs, who is listed as the 3rd defendant, urged the court through its team of lawyers led by ON Ibrahim, to dismiss the suit for lack of jurisdiction.

The objection is predicated on the fact that ‘the main complaint of the plaintiffs/respondents, which is the non-reflection of Federal Character principle in the appointments into the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Board of Trustees, is not justiciable.’

Canvassing this argument in its written submissions, the Minister of Police Affairs said: ‘My Lord, the plaintiffs/respondents urged this court to declare whether section 14(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) has not been violated in the appointment into Nigeria Police Trust Fund Board of Trustees. My Lord section 14(3) of the Constitution falls under chapter two which has to do with the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of state policy.

‘My Lord, the said section 14(3) of the Constitution is not justiciable by virtue of section 6(6) (c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

“My Lord, the above constitutional provision is clear and unambiguous. This court, is, therefore, respectfully urged to hold that it lacks the jurisdiction to entertain this suit. The constitution has deprived this court the needed power and authority to entertain suits of this nature. This court is, therefore, urged to strike out the plaintiff originating summons for lack of jurisdiction of the court.’

The 3rd defendant said a suit of this nature promotes sentiments and sectional feelings which do not augur well for the progress and unity of the country.

He further challenged the locus standi of the plaintiffs to institute the suit.

The group is further asking the court to decide whether in the light of Section 162(3) of the 1999 Constitution and Nigeria Police Trust Fund (Establishment) Act, purporting to include as part of its revenue ‘an amount constituting 0.5 per cent of the total revenue accruing to the Federation Account’, is not unconstitutional and void.

It is further praying the court to determine whether it is not incumbent on the 1st defendant to appoint and constitute the Board to prevent the predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups or zones, in the board, and whether it is not unlawful and unconstitutional for the leadership and directing minds of the board to be persons from few states or from few ethnic or other sectional groups or zones. (Daily Sun)

Source: News Express

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