ABUJA, Nigeria – Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has declared President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointment of new service chiefs as illegal and unconstitutional.
Buhari appointed new service chiefs on Tuesday following the resignation of the former officers.
But Falana, in a statement he personally signed on Wednesday, quoted a 2013 judgment which described such appointments without the concurrence of the National Assembly as illegal and unconstitutional.
For this reason, Falana said that Buhari only nominated the service chiefs and did not appoint them.
“Yesterday, President Buhari was reported to have appointed new service chiefs for the armed forces.
“Upon a critical review of the law on the subject matter the members of the Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAP) have found that the appointments remain inchoate as President Muhammadu Buhari has not forwarded the names of the proposed service chiefs to the National Assembly for approval in strict compliance with the relevant provisions of the Constitution and the Armed Forces Act.
“The appointments of service chiefs without the concurrence of the National Assembly which had been the practice since 1999 was challenged in the Federal High Court sometime in 2008 by Mr. Festus Keyamo SAN in the case of Keyamo v President Goodluck Jonathan (unreported Suit No FHC/ABJ/ CS/611/2008).
“In his landmark judgment delivered on July 2, 2013, Adamu Bello J. (as he then was) held that it was illegal and unconstitutional, null and void for the President to single-handedly appoint Service Chiefs without the approval of the National Assembly having regards to the combined effect of Section 218 of the Constitution and section 18 (1) & (3) of the Armed Forces Act..,” the statement read.
Falana pointed out that the Federal Government did not challenge any aspect of the judgment at the Court of Appeal having acknowledged it as sound and unimpeachable.
He explained that the judgment was binding on all authorities and persons in Nigeria in accordance with the provisions of section 287 of the Constitution.
The senior lawyer asked President Buhari to send the names he had selected to both chambers of the National Assembly for confirmation.
Buhari has received a lot of commendation from Nigerians for summoning up the courage to sack the former service chiefs who many Nigerians believed had lost the ideas to tackle insecurity in the country.
Notably, Olusegun Bamgbose, chieftain of the New Nigerian Peoples Party, NNPP, had described the dismissal of the former security heads as the best decision taken by President Muhammadu Buhari in his five years in office.
The new service chiefs are: Major-General Leo Irabor as Chief of Defence Staff; Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao as Chief of Air Staff; Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo as Chief of Naval Staff; and General Ibrahim Attahiru as Chief of Army Staff.
Meanwhile, Femi Adesina, the President’s Spokesman, said that his principal felt it was the best time to remove the service chiefs and appoint new ones.
According to Adesina, “the President knew the time to do it and I believe the time has come and that is why it has been done.”
He added that the service chiefs did not resign as a result of a number of security failures under their tenure.