President Buhari Not Legally Fit to Be Petroleum Minister – Court
The Federal High Court in Abuja has RULED THAT Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari cannot legally hold the position of President of the Federal Republic as well as Petroleum Minister; a role the Nigerian President ascribed to himself while he appointed a junior Minister of State, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu.
The declaration of the Federal High Court had come about as result of a suit instituted by the former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN).
Agbakoba had, in the suit, urged the court to restrain President Buhari from continuing to hold the office of the Minister of Petroleum Resources.
According to the former NBA President, Section 138 of the 1999 Constitution bars the President from “holding any other executive office or paid employment.”
In its ruling, the court has stated that President Buhari was not in violation of Section 138 of the 1999 Constitution because he was not in directly in charge of affairs at the Ministry of Petroleum Resources having appointed Dr. Ibe Kachikwu to perform this duty.
The court thereafter interpreted the phrase ‘to hold’ in Section 138 as “to preside, act, to possess, occupy or conduct the actual day to day running of the office.” Therefore a mere proclamation announcing President Buhari as Petroleum Minister does not imply that he actually holds the office.
In the suit, Agbakoba had argued that as a legal practitioner with 40 years’ of experience and having checked the Constitution, he was convinced that President Muhammadu Buhari cannot legally hold the office of the Minister of Petroleum Resources and thus urged the court to sack him.
He had contended that Buhari was not screened for the ministerial job by the Senate, as required by the constitution.
He therefore urged the court to determine;
“whether, by virtue of Section 147(2) of the 1999 Constitution, the President can hold the office of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, without confirmation by the Senate of the National Assembly.”
In a 14-paragraph affidavit to back up his suit, Agbakoba (SAN) explained that the lawsuit was informed by the recent management crisis within the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), on account of disagreements between the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, and the Group Managing Director of the NNPC.
Excerpts from the 14 paragraph affidavit as published by Punch Newspaper include;
“I verily believe that the governance chaos in the NNPC could not have occurred if the President is not also the Minister of Petroleum Resources.
I am aware that the NNPC provides up to 90 percent of the revenue accruing to Nigeria. I am worried that the crisis in the NNPC will greatly reduce Nigeria’s revenue-generating capacity and will affect the revenue distributable to federal, state and local governments in Nigeria.
This will gravely affect development nationwide and drastically impact one and all Nigerians, including those in Anambra State (my state of origin) and Lagos State (my state of residence).
I looked at Section 138 of the 1999 Constitution and I verily believe it disqualifies the President from holding executive office including that of the Minister of Petroleum, during his tenure of office as President.
I know that the President did not go through nomination process and confirmation by the Senate, before holding the office of Minister of Petroleum Resources.