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Group cautions Buhari on allocating defence, AGF offices to north


*Wants Buhari to face confirmation Senate hearing as petroleum minister*

As Nigerians are in high expectations of the Tuesday’s official unveiling of the names of the members of the soon to be inaugurated Executive Council of the Federation (Federal Cabinet), the President, Muhammadu Buhari has been cautioned against nominating Nigerians of Northern extractions to occupy the high profile and sensitive offices of Federal Attorney General/ Minister of Justice and minister of Defence.

This is given to the fact that 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.

Making the observations is the Pro-Democracy Non-Governmental Organisation -HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) in a media statement jointly endorsed by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf just.

It asked that the President respects the constitutional provisions with reference to principle of Federal Character in making his further appointments so 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 [NDC] enshrined in Third Schedule, part 1 (G) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 (as amended).

(The NDC has powers to advise the President on matters relating to the defence of the Sovereignty and territorial integrity of Nigeria.)

HURIWA said 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 to Section 14 (3) on federal Character which specifically 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 argued that the appointments made so far and particularly the composition of the National Defence Council has occasioned a breach of the Federal Character Principles because Mr President specifically picked majority of the members from the Northern parts of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.  

The Rights group has 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 regards to National security and Defence are from the North of Nigeria where the President hails from.

On why President Muhammadu Buhari should resist the temptation to assume a ministerial position the Rights group said the job prescriptions 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 HURIWA said 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 affirmed 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.

Emmanuel Onwubiko

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