Service chiefs’ appointment: Buhari goes against judgment, bypasses National Assembly

Published January 28, 2021

Major General Muhammadu Buhari’ s ( retd. ) appointment of service chiefs on Tuesday violated a 2013 judgment of a Federal High Court, Abuja , checks byThe PUNCH on Wednesday revealed .The judgment , which was delivered by Justice Adamu Bello on July 2, 2013 , stated that it was mandatory for the President to obtain the confirmation of the National Assembly for the appointment of the service chiefs .But the President , who on Tuesday appointed service chiefs including the Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Lucky Irabor; the Chief of Army Staff, Major General Ibrahim Attahiru ; the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral A .Z Gambo , and the Chief of Air Staff, Air -Vice Marshal Isiaka Amao , did not seek the National Assembly’ s approval .The PUNCH also gathered that Buhari had no intention of sending the names of the service chiefs to the National Assembly for confirmation .There was an indication to this effect as the President ’ s spokesman, Femi Adesina , in a statement on Wednesday addressed the new heads of armed forces with their new posts instead of in acting capacities if Buhari had the intention of sending their names to the National Assembly for confirmation .

Recall that Justice Bello while delivering a judgment on a suit filed by Mr Festus Keyamo , SAN , who is now the Minister of State for Labour and Employment , declared that the appointment of then service chiefs by former President Goodluck Jonathan was null and void.The service chiefs affected then included the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-General Azubuike Ihejirika; the Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Alex Badeh and the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ezeoba .Justice Bello had stated , “ It is clear that under Section 18 ( 1 ) and ( 4 ) of the Armed Forces Act , the President in appointing such officers as the ‘service chiefs ’ is expected to consult with the Chief of Defence Staff and the Forces Council but such appointment must be subject to the confirmation by the National Assembly. ”It was learnt on Wednesday that the President had not forwarded any letter to the National Assembly seeking the approval of the legislative arm of government as of 4 pm .President not under obligation to get N ’ Assembly confirmation for service chiefs — Presidency sourceA Presidency official , who confided inThe PUNCH, said the President was not under any obligation to send names of new service chiefs to the National Assembly for confirmationThe Presidency official said the nation ’ s constitution made it clear that the President should appoint service chiefs .Though he acknowledged the court judgment asking that service chiefs ’ appointments must be confirmed by the National Assembly , the source said the constitution is superior to any other law .He said, “ The constitution is clear on this matter. It said the President should appoint service chiefs .“ This is not the first time President Buhari will be appointing service chiefs . Those he appointed the first time , did he send their names to the National Assembly for confirmation ?

“ It is true that Keyamo went to court at a time but the truth of the matter is that the constitution is superior to any other law . The constitution says the President should appoint service chiefs and he has just done that .”The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity , Garba Shehu , declined comment on the matter when he was contacted .

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