By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA-A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party in Adamawa State, Dr. Umar Ardo, Tuesday asked a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to stop the conferment of posthumous national honours on the late acclaimed winner of the June 12 Presidential election, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola and legal luminary, Gani Fawehinmi (of blessed memory).
Ardo, a former Special Assistant to then Vice-President Atiku Abubakar on Research and Strategy, also asked the court to stop the investiture of such national honour on Abiola’s running mate in the election, Babagana Kingibe.
Ardo on Tuesday filed the suit marked, FHC/ABJ/CS/609/2018, contending that “without the advice of the Council of State” the President lacked the power to confer the national honours as planned.”
He further prayed the court to set aside the decision of President Buhari to confer national awards on the planned honourees.
The PDP stalwart joined the President, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, and the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), as the defendants.
He filed along with the main suit a motion seeking “an interlocutory injunction” restraining President Buhari and other defendants from going ahead with the conferment of the national honours as planned for Tuesday.
He also wrote to the SGF through his lawyer, Mr. Doueyi Fiderikumo, shortly after filing the suit, warning that the conferment ceremony be stayed in the light of the legal action.
The lawyer wrote, “In this development, you are advised to stay action on the conferment of the said award on the late Chief M.K.O Abiola, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, and the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, so as not to interfere with the subject of the said case. An advance copy of the said suit is hereby attached for the avoidance of doubt,” he added.
But Ardo in his suit filed on Monday argued that the national honours could not be conferred since the first citizen was yet to obtain the counsel of the Council of State in that respect, stressing that the conferment of the national honours planned to hold on Tuesday (yesterday) would violate section 5(1) (b) and section 6 (a) (iii) of Part 1 to the Third Schedule of the Nigerian Constitution.
He asked the court to determine “whether having regard to 5 (1) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and section 6 (a) (iii) of Part 1 to the Third Schedule thereto, the 1st defendant (Buhari) is not under a legal obligation to consult or at least obtain the advice of the Council of State before the conferment of a national award on any person?”
He therefore urged the court to make, “A declaration that the 1st defendant (Buhari) lacks the constitutional powers to award National Honours to the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi or anybody else for that matter without the advice of the Council of State as provided for in section 6 (a) (iii) of Part 1 to the Third Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
“A declaration that the decision of the 1st defendant to award National Honours to the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, late Chief Gani Fawehinmi or anybody else for that matter without seeking and obtaining the advice of the Council of State is contrary to sections 5 (1) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and section 6 (a) (iii) of Part 1 to the Third Schedule thereto and is thus null and void.
Ardo’s suit notwithstanding, President Buhari at a brief ceremony at the Banquet hall of the Presidential Villa yesterday conferred the national honours on Abiola and other heroes of the June 12 struggle.