Lopsided appointments: Court gives National Assembly 30 days to file reply

A Federal High Court, Abuja on Wednesday gave the National Assembly 30 days to file its reply to the suit by senior citizens from South and the Middle Belt region of Nigeria challenging alleged lopsided public appointments and loans expenditure by the Federal Government.

The trial Judge, Justice Okon Abang while giving the directives said the National Assembly has been joined in the suit as the 5th defendants by the senior citizens.

The Judge also granted leave to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to regularise their replies, having been filed out of time.

Justice Abang further ordered that all the processes in the matter be filed and exchanged before the next adjourned date of January 28, 2021.

In the suit filed through their counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), the senior citizens are demanding a reversal of the appointments and the sum of N50 billion in punitive, aggravated and exemplary damages against the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government over the alleged violations of the constitution since the inception of the administration in 2015.

The 16 elders are: Edwin Clark, Reuben Fasoranti, John Nnia Nwodo, Dr Pogu Bitrus, Ayo Adebanjo, Alaowei Broderick Bozimo, Sarah Doketri, Chukwuemeka Ezeife.

Others are, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, Sen Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele, Prof Julie Umukoro, Elder Stephen Bangoji, Tjani Babatunde, Rose Obuoforibo, Adakole Ijogi, and Charles Nwakeaku.

The defendants are the Federal Republic of Nigeria, AGF, Clerk of National Assembly, and the Federal Character Commission.

The elders said it was “Reckless and adverse to the interest of Nigeria” to obtain foreign loans of $22.7 billion for infrastructure development only to allocate the bulk of the fund to the Northern region with less than one per cent of the amount to the South East Zone, which “violates section 16 (1) (a) (b) and S16 (2) (a) (b) (c) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).”

In the matter for interpretation, the elders want the court to determine whether, “in view of Section 10 particularly when read together with Section 38(1), 42(1)(a), 1(2), 16(2)(c), 14(3) and (4), and 15(2) of the 1999 Constitution (As amended), defendants are vested with the powers to pursue a deliberate policy direction of discrimination whereby preferential treatment is given to particular ethnoreligious groups in the country calculated to undermine all other religions.”

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