Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has requested the National Assembly to confirm the nomination of the new Service Chiefs.
Babajide Omoworare, Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters (Senate), made this known in a statement released on Friday.
The statement came on the heels of criticisms by lawyers in the country that the president has violated the 1999 constitution and the Armed Forces Act by single-handedly appointing the service chiefs without seeking the approval of the National Assembly.
One of those who criticised the president over the appointment of the service chiefs is Femi Falana, a human rights lawyer in Nigeria.
“The appointments of service chiefs without the concurrence of the National Assembly which had been the practice since 1999 was challenged in the Federal High Court sometime in 2008 by Mr Festus Keyamo SAN (the current Minister of State in the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity) in the case of Keyamo v President Goodluck Jonathan (unreported Suit No FHC/ABJ/ CS/611/2008),” said Falana.
Falana added that a “judgment delivered on July 2, 2013, Adamu Bello J. (as he then was) held that it was illegal and unconstitutional, null and void for the President to single handedly appointed Service Chiefs without the approval of the national assembly having regards to the combined effect of section 218 of the Constitution and section 18 (1) & (3) of the Armed Forces Act.
“To that extent, the judgment is binding on all authorities and persons in Nigeria in accordance with the provisions of section 287of the Constitution.”
However, according to Omoworare, President Buhari did not bypass the process of appointing the new Service Chiefs as Falana and others expressed.
He said the president adopted the same procedure as he did when appointing the immediate past Service Chiefs in 2015.
“Upon announcement of the appointment of the then Service Chiefs – Major General Abayomi Olonisakin (Chief of Defence Staff), Major General Tukur Buratai (Chief of Army Staff), Rear Admiral Ibok-Efe Ibas (Chief of Naval Staff) and Air Vice Marshal Sadique Abubakar (Chief of Air Staff), Mr President had written the 8th Senate on 14th July 2015 for confirmation,” Omoworare said.
“Whilst the correspondence was read on the floor of the Senate on 28th July 2015, consideration and confirmation of the appointments was carried out at the Committee of the Whole on 4th August 2015.”
According to him, the president is waiting for a communication from the Senate as plenary sessions resume Feb. 9, 2021, when, hopefully, the confirmation of the nomination would be considered by the senate.
The nominees are Major General Lucky Irabor, Major General Ibrahim Attahiru, Rear Admiral Awwal Gambo and Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Amao as Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff and Chief of Air Staff respectively.
Their nomination was announced on Tuesday by Femi Adesina who said their appointment followed the acceptance of immediate resignation of the former service chiefs.
“Before this administration, confirmation of Service Chiefs were not sought and obtained from the National Assembly in consonance with the provisions of Section 18 (1) of the Armed Forces Act Cap. A.20 LFN,” Omoworare said.
He added that “in Keyamo Vs. President & Ors, the Federal High Court set aside the Armed Forces Modification Order 2008 (purportedly made under Section 315 [2) of the Constitution) on 1st July 2013 and ruled that the confirmation of the National Assembly must be sought for the appointment of the Service Chiefs.”