The appointment of service chief by President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday without confirmation by the National Assembly has seen the president violate a 2013 judgment of a Federal High Court, Abuja.
According to Punch, Justice Adamu Bello on July 2, 2013, in a ruling noted that it is mandatory for the President to obtain the confirmation of the National Assembly for the appointment of the service chiefs.
President Buhari, however, 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, without approval from the national assembly.
Buhari’s spokesperson, Femi Adesina, in a statement on Wednesday addressed new service chiefs with their position instead of in acting capacities if his principal has the intention of sending their names to the National Assembly for confirmation.
Justice Bello in his ruling in 2013 in a suit filed by Festus Keyamo, SAN, who is now the minister of State for Labour and Employment, declared that the appointment of the 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.”
According to Punch, as at Wednesday President Buhari has not forwarded any letter to the National Assembly seeking the approval of the legislative arm of government.
A presidency official who spoke on the development said the President is not under any law to send names of new service chiefs to the National Assembly for confirmation.
The Presidency official said the nation’s constitution made it clear that the President should appoint service chiefs.
The official further stated that 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.”