A group of 16 senior citizens from the South has sued President Muhammadu Buhari and three others for alleged discrimination in the administration’s appointments into key positions and application of externally obtained loans for infrastructure development.
In the suit, the plaintiffs, led by Chief Edwin Clark, averred that since the inception of the Buhari administration in 2015, the President has consistently contravened the Federal Character Principle enshrined in the Constitution.
The plaintiffs, in the suit filed for them by a team of lawyers, including Solomon Asemota (SAN) and Mike Ozekhome (SAN), claimed that the South has been deliberately neglected by the Buhari administration. They asked for N50 billion in damages.
Listed as plaintiff are: Chief Edwin Clark, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, Dr John Nnia Nwodo, Dr Pogu Bittus, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Alaowei Bozimo, Mrs Sarah Doketri, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife and Air Commodore Idongsit Nkanga.
Others are: Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele, Prof Julie Umukoro, Elder Stephen Bangoji, Alhaji Tijani Babatunde, Mrs Rose Obuoforibo, Mr Adakole Ijogi and Dr Charles Nwakeaku.
The defendants are President Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), the Clerk of the National Assembly and the Federal Character Commission (FCC).
The plaintiffs raised a number of issues for the court’s determination.
These include whether it “is not reckless and adverse to the interest of Nigeria for President Buhari to obtain a loan facility from the Islamic Development Bank, African Development Bank, the World Bank, China, Japan, and Germany, amounting to $22.7 billion (USD), for infrastructural development, only to allocate the bulk of the fund to the Northern region.
“Whether the power to appoint designated public officers, including permanent secretaries, principal representatives of Nigeria abroad, which is vested in the first defendant has been lawfully exercised by him since the inception of his administration from 2015 till date.”
“Whether his actions are in breach of sections 171(5), 814(3) (4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended),” among others.
The plaintiffs also prayed the court to, among others, declare that the loan facility purportedly for infrastructural development wherein less than one per cent of the amount is to be allocated to the Southeast for specific infrastructural development, violates sections16 (1) (a) (b) and 16 (2) (a) (b) (c) of the Constitution.
They are also seeking a declaration that President Buhari’s procurement of any loan, which would increase Nigeria’s outstanding debt by up to 30 per cent of its GDP or which would increase its interest payment above 50 per cent of government revenue, is unconstitutional.
At the mention of the case yesterday, Justice Okon Abang said the plaintiffs were yet to serve all the defendants the relevant documents on the matter.
He adjourned till July 10 and directed Ozekhome to ensure service on the defendants before the date.