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Published On: Thu, Nov 19th, 2020

Lopsided appointments: Court gives NASS 30 days to reply

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By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja

A Federal High Court Abuja Division, has asked the National Assembly to file its reply to the suit challenging alleged lopsided public appointments and loans expenditure under the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
The court gave the National Assembly 30 days to reply having been joined as the 5th defendants as well as granting the FG and the AGF leave to regularise their replies having been filed out of time.
Justice Okon Abang in his ruling further ordered that all the processes be filed and exchanged before the next adjourned date of January 13, 2021.
The plaintiffs who are 16 elders from the South East and the Middle Belts are: Edwin Clerk, Reuben Fasoranti, John Nnia Nwodo, Dr Pogu Bitrus, Ayo Adebanjo, Alaowei Broderick Bozimo, Sarah Doketri, Chukwuemeka Ezeife.
Others are: Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, Sen Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele, Prof Julie Umukoro, Elder Stephen Bangoji, Tjani Babatunde, Rose Obuoforibo, Adakole Ijogi, and Charles Nwakeaku.
Mentioned as defendants in the matter are the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Attorney General of the Federation, Clerk of National Assembly, and the Federal Character Commission.
In the suit filed by their counsel, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), the senior citizens are demanding a reversal of the appointments and the sum of N50 billion in punitive, aggravated and examplary damages against the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government over the alleged violations of the constitution since the inception of the administration in 2015.
The elders said it was “reckless and adverse to the interest of Nigeria” to obtain foreign loans of $22.7 billion for infrastructure development only to allocate the bulk of the fund to the Northern region with less than 1 percent of the amount to the South East Zone, which “violates section 16 (1) (a) (b) and S16 (2) (a) (b) (c) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).”
In the matter for interpretation, the elders want the court to determine whether “in view of Section 10 particularly when read together with Section 38(1), 42(1)(a), 1(2), 16(2)(c), 14(3) and (4), and 15(2) of the 1999 Constitution (As amended), defendants are vested with the powers to pursue a deliberate policy direction of discrimination whereby preferential treatment is given to particular ethno-religious groups in the country calculated to undermine all other religions.”

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