16 October 2017

Nigeria: Agbakoba Takes Buhari to Court Over Role As Oil Minister

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A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Olisa Agbakoba, has asked an Abuja Division of the Federal High Court to determine the constitutionality of President Muhammadu Buhari serving as petroleum minister and president at the same time.

The application is one of the reactions to the controversy trailing a recent confrontation between top officials of the Nigerian oil industry: the minister of state for petroleum resources, Ibeh Kachikwu and Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Maikanti Baru.

In a letter dated August 30, Mr. Kachikwu accused Mr. Baru of a frivolous award of contracts without recourse to due process and also insubordination.

According to the letter addressed to the President Muhammadu Buhari, which leaked to the public, Mr. Kachikwu said the NNPC boss awarded multi-million dollar contracts without following due process.

Mr. Baru, however, denied the allegation, saying he sought the approvals of the vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, in the processes criticised by Mr. Kachikwu.

The vice president after a period of silence later responded, saying he approved the contracts. A statement by presidential spokesperson, Laolu Akande, had said Mr. Osinbajo approved the loan arrangements in his capacity as acting president in July.

In the statement issued from Mr. Agbakoba's media aide, Niyi Odunmorayo, on Monday the lawyer said the decision of the president to also serve as minister of petroleum negates sections 138 and 147 (2) of the constitution.

The lawyer argued that according to section 138 of the constitution, the president is not supposed to take up any paid employment as a public servant, which includes that of the minister of petroleum.

He further said Mr. Buhari's role as petroleum minister was not "ratified for confirmation by the Senate," as required by section 147 (2) of the constitution, thereby rendering unconstitutional for Mr. Buhari to remain in office since as minister, he ought to be screened by the lawmakers.

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