Posted by News Express | 6 October 2015 | 3,223 times
President, Muhammadu Buhari has been cautioned against appointing Nigerians of northern extraction into the positions of Minister of Defence and Federal Attorney General/Minister of Justice. “The North has got more than its fair share of representations at the very highest security and administrative levels in the appointments made so far by Mr President, who is from the North,” said the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) in a statement jointly endorsed by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf.
The rights group asked that the President respects the constitutional provisions with reference to the principle of federal character in making further appointments “so that he doesn’t compound the constitutional breaches he has committed in the previous appointments.”
“Besides, the nomination of Northerners to occupy these positions will completely alienate the South East of Nigeria and create overwhelming dominance of the North in key offices including the constitutionally recognised war council known legally as the National Defence Council enshrined in Third Schedule, Part 1 (G) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 (as amended) which has power to advise the President on matters relating to the defence of the Sovereignty and territorial integrity of Nigeria,” HURIWA said.
It added that “since the North has singularly produced virtually 75% of the Service Chiefs including the National Security Adviser, it will be illegal and amounts to an abuse of power for Mr President to further appoint persons from his side of the country to the total alienation of other zones and especially the South East of Nigeria.”
The rights group said the President in making any appointment must ensure compliance with Section 14 (3) of the constitution on federal character, which states thus: “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and conduct of its affairs SHALL be carried out in such a manner as to reflect Federal Character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few States or from a few Ethnic; or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.”
HURIWA warned also that should the President proceed to appoint Northerners as Ministers in the Ministries of Justice and especially the ministry of Defence it will inevitably be construed that the current government is a Northern Regional Administration because the majority of the holders of positions of constitutional authority and power, particularly with regard to National Security and Defence, are from the North of Nigeria where the President hails from.
HURIWA also strongly opposed Buhari’s attempt to keep the position of Minister of Petroleum Resources to himself. It argued that “the job description domiciled constitutionally in the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria does not include that of the Minister of Petroleum but what the constitution donates to Mr President is the appointing authority to nominate another Nigerian Citizen other than himself for a cabinet level position.”
Besides, said HURIWA, it would be a constitutional breach for any person to hold the office of a cabinet level minister without attending a confirmation hearing before the National Assembly in line with section 147 (2) of the constitution, which provides that “any appointment to the office of Minister of the Government of the Federation Shall, if the nomination of any person to such office is confirmed by the Senate, be made by the President.”
HURIWA insisted that “in line with the provisions of the law all holders of offices of ministers, including that of Petroleum which Mr President has unconstitutionally decided to donate to himself, must be subject to strict confirmation hearing by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in line with the principle of Separation of powers and constitutionalism.”
•Photo shows President Buhari.
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