An Enugu-based activist, Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo has filed a suit at the Federal High Court Umuahia, Abia state challenging the constitutionality of the appointment of Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (rtd) as the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service by President Muhammadu Buhari.
However, Okonkwo’s suit is coming few days after Marcel Dim-Udebuani, a lawyer who hails from Nnewi North Local Government Area of Anambra State, filed a suit no FHC/ABJ/CS/732/2015, before an Abuja Federal High Court, accusing Buhari of allegedly breaching Nigeria’s federal character principle in his appointment of persons into key positions under his administration.
Dim-Udebuani who joined the Chairman of the Federal Character Commission as the co-defendant, contended then, that the 25 appointments made so far by the President were in breach of the spirit of federal character enshrined in section 14 (3) of 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He anchored his suit on the grounds “that the Federal Republic of Nigeria is a country for all the citizens, South-East inclusive.”
Similarly, Okonkwo in the suit FHC/UM/CS/216 in which he joined the Attorney General of the federation and Ali, the plaintiff also sought the interpretation of Sections 5(1), 147(1), 148, 151 and 171(1) of the 1999 Constitution and the Custom and Excise Management Act, Cap. 45 Vol. 4LFN 2004 among others.
Okonkwo asked the court to declare that the appointment of Col. Ali (rtd) as Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Services violated 5(1), 147(1), 148, 151 and 171(1) of the 1999 constitution as well as a declaration of the appointment as ‘ultra vires’ of the president’s executive powers and duties and breach of his Oath of Office.
He further asked for “a declaration that as at 27th of August 2015, when the President purportedly appointed the Col. Ali (rtd) Comptroller-General of the NCS; the President breached the statutory mandatory provision in section 147(1) of the 1999 constitution; having not appointed Minister of Finance, the 2nd defendant.
“A declaration that the appointment of Col. Ali (rtd) as the Comptroller-General of the NCS is not supported by any iota of law, and a clear violation of the Public Service Rules application to the NCS. A declaration that there is no enabling law made by the national Assembly as the authority for the appointment of Col. Ali (rtd) as the new Comp,troller-General, NCS, his appointment by President Buhari is unconstitutional, null and void”.
Okonkwo told the court that the purported press statement by Mr. Femi Adesina, an aid of President Buhari was without due regard to Civil Service Rules, stressing that an appointment to the office of CG of NCS “shall not be made except with the recommendation of the Minister of Finance, and among Deputy Controller-Generals, Assistant Controller-Generals and or Controllers in the Service.
“The appointment was not in response to advertised vacancy, therefore the said appointment is of no legal consequence and as a retired Colonel in the Nigerian Army above 60yrs of age, a pensioner, he is not eligible for appointment into the federal civil service regarding the Nigeria Customs Service,” he stated.