Edwin Clark, Nwodo, Adebanjo, Other Southern Leaders Slam N50bn Suit Against Buhari Over Marginalisation


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President Muhammadu Buhari has been dragged before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja over alleged marginalisation of the Southern region of the country.

The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/595/2020 was instituted by 16 elder statesmen and leaders of various socio-cultural organisations in the Southern and Middle Belt parts of the country.

Some of the plaintiffs include 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 Southern and Middle Belt leaders claimed that Buhari since the commencement of his administration in 2015 has pursued a policy of marginalisation of the South by skewing his appointments in favour of the North in breach of the 1999 Constitution and the Federal Character Principle.

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They are praying the court to declare as reckless and adverse to the interest of Nigeria the Buhari administration’s decision to obtain a loan facility from the Islamic Development Bank, African Development Bank (AfDB), 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.

Similarly, they are seeking a declaration of the court that the loan facility purportedly for infrastructural development wherein less than 1% of the amount is to be allocated to the South East Zone of Nigeria for specific infrastructural development, violates section 16 (1) (a) (b) and S16 (2) (a) (b) (c) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

The plaintiffs are also seeking “a declaration that the 1st Defendant’s procurement of any loan which would increase Nigeria’s outstanding debt by up to 30% of its GDP or which would increase its interest payment above 50% of government revenue is unconstitutional”.

Furthermore, they implored the court to determine, “Whether the power to appoint designated public officers including permanent secretaries, principal representatives of Nigeria abroad, which is vested in the 1st Defendant has been lawfully exercised by him since the inception of his administration from 2015 till date and Whether his actions are in breach of Sections 171(5), 814(3) (4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

“Whether the power to appoint Nigeria’s Armed Services Chiefs, other Commanders or top officials of the respective Armed Forces Higher and High Commands’ General Staff ; namely the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) and Chief of Airforce Staff (CA8); the other statutorily established Nigerian National Security agencies or services , namely: The Inspector General of the Nigerian Police (1GP), the Directors General (DGs) of the State Security Service (SSS), National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA); the Heads of National Security Associated Federal Government (FG) establishments, namely the Nigerian Civil Defense and Security Corps (NCDSC), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Nigerian Customs and Excise Service, the Nigerian Immigration Services (NIS), the Nigerian Correctional Services (NCS), the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA), the National Youth Service corps (NYSC), the National Security Adviser (NSA), the Ministers of Defense, Interior, Police and the respective National Security ministries’ Permanent Secretaries’ which is vested in the 1st Defendant, has been lawfully exercised by the 1st Defendant since the inception of his administration and whether these appointments are in compliance with 81(2), 814(3)(4), 8217(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

The suit is being filed by a team of lawyers comprising 10 Senior Advocates of Nigeria led by Chief Solomon Asemota, SAN, and Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN.

The plaintiffs are demanding N50 billion to be awarded against the defendants to represent 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.

Justice Okon Abang has fixed July 10 for hearing of the case.

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