Mike Ozekhome, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), says he cannot decode President Muhammad Buhari’s “defiant refusal to respect the federal character principle enshrined in section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution. Or, can you?”
The senior lawyer said this in a statement on Tuesday as he reacted to the appointment of Usman Alkali Baba, another Northern Muslim, as the acting inspector-general (IGP) of police, saying it is unconstitutional.
“Is Buhari telling Nigerians that under his governance, Nigerians are indeed living in the federal republic of the north, or northern republic of Nigeria, or the republic of northern Nigeria, or northern Nigeria republic, republic of northern Nigeria and other vassal states? he asked.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Tuesday appointed Mr. Baba IGP. The former deputy Inspector-General of Police was asked to resume with immediate effect.
But Ozekhome said the president lacks the power to single-handedly appoint an IGP.
Going by sections 7(6) and 18(8) of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020, in addition to the clear provisions of sections 214 ,215 and 216 and paragraph 7 to the 3rd Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, Mr. Ozekhome stated “the president cannot single-handedly appoint an IGP, as he has again unconstitutionally and illegally done.”
According to him, “He can only do so in conjunction with the Nigeria Police Council comprising Mr. President as chairman, all the 36 state governors, the chairman of the Police Service Commission and the IGP.
“Such an appointment as just happened before the new acting IGP is capricious, arbitrary, whimsical, unconscionable, illegal, unlawful, wrongful and unconstitutional.”
The senior advocate also raised the issue of tribalism, stressing that the president is “opaque” in his appointments.
“Today, Buhari has again appointed DIG Usman Alkali Baba, a northern Muslim, as acting inspector-general of police, to replace Adamu Mohammed, another northern Muslim,” he said.
“With Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi, another northern Muslim as the minister of police affairs, the circle of policing in Nigeria is complete.
“Of course, Buhari controls the police by virtues of sections 214, 215 and 216 of the 1999 Constitution. It is the same situation with the ministry of petroleum resources and NNPC, the entire security architecture of Nigeria, and other key sectors and commanding heights of the economy.
“The illogical and puerile argument is always that the president only appoints people he can trust and that such persons are qualified in any event. That argument is insulting and insensitive to the intelligence, sensibilities and plurality of Nigeria.
“Can’t President Muhammadu Buhari for once, just for once, in his opaque appointments look beyond his religion and immediate and forsake sectionalism, cronyism, prebendalism, tribalism, favouritism, and act as a true statesman?
“Is he truly saying he cannot trust any of the other over 15 million Nigerians who voted for him, or that he cannot find any of them that is qualified to be made an IGP?”
Ozekhome further minded Nigerians that the president has not kept his campaign promises on securing the country, and ensuring fairness.
“I thought he gleefully told Nigerians on 29th May, 2015, while taking his first oath of office, that he was for “everybody and for nobody”? So, Buhari had actually deceived Nigerians and is desecrating his solemn oath of office? So, he just wanted power for the sake of it, after three serial failures in 2003, 2007 and 2011, leading to him even weeping publicly, swearing never to contest again? Is that why he has failed abysmally in deliverables in all his self-appointed campaign promises of a buoyant economy, anti-corruption war and a secured Nigeria? ”