Finally, Buhari Transmits Names Of Service Chiefs For Screening | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Finally, Buhari Transmits Names Of Service Chiefs For Screening

Posted: Jul 21, 2015 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Ignatius Okorocha, Isuma Mark  – Abuja

 

After much controversy on the constitutionality of the exercise, President Muhammadu Buhari has at last transmitted a letter to President of the Senate, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, seeking the screening and confirmation of the Service Chiefs – one week after they were named.

The transmission of the letter is despite the postponement of the National Assembly’s resumption date by one week.

The President had appointed Major General Abayomi Gabriel Olonishakin as Chief of Defence Staff; Major General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, Chief of Naval Staff; and Air Vice Marshal Monday Riku Morgan, Chief of Air Staff.

Chief of Defence  Intelligence, Air Vice Marshal  Morgan Monday Riku (right) , Chief of Defence Staff,  Major General Abayomi  Olonisakin (second right),  Chief of Naval Staff, Real Admiral Ibok Ete Ekwe Ibas (second left),  and Chief of Air Staff,  Air Vice Mashal  Sadique  Abubakar, during a meeting with president Mohamadu Buhari at the State  House, Abuja,  on Monday.                 Photo:  Tunde Olaniyi

Chief of Defence Intelligence, Air Vice Marshal Morgan Monday Riku (right) , Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Abayomi Olonisakin (second right), Chief of Naval Staff, Real Admiral Ibok Ete Ekwe Ibas (second left), and Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Mashal Sadique Abubakar, during a meeting with president Mohamadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, on Monday. Photo: Tunde Olaniyi

A source close to the office of the Senate President, on Monday, told Daily Independent that the confirmation letter has been sent to the upper chamber, but attempts to get further clarification proved abortive.

However, the source gave an insight into the letter, seeking “confirmation of the following nominees for appointment as the Chief of Defence Staff and Service Chiefs for the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in accordance with Section 18(1) of the Armed Forces Act, Cap. A. 20 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004”.

The letter also noted: “The President may, upon consultation with the Chief of Defence Staff and subject to confirmation by the National Assembly, appoint such officers (in this Act referred to as ‘’Service Chiefs’’) as he thinks fit, in whom the command of the Army, Navy and Air Force, as the case may be, and their Reserves shall be vested.”

Recall that Saraki, was quoted as telling the President via his twitter handle that he does not require the approval of the Senate to nominate the country’s Service Chiefs, adding stressing on his Twitter handle, Tuesday last week, that it was not the business of the Senate to approve the appointment of Service Chiefs.

An extract from the tweet read in part: “Appointment of service chiefs is an exclusive function of Mr President.

“Senate can only approve Ministerial (list), parastatals etc.”

However, this comment of Saraki according to analysts, runs contrary to the pronouncement of a Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, which on July 1, 2013 ruled that any appointment of Service Chiefs by the president without approval of the National Assembly is unconstitutional and illegal.

Justice Adamu Bello declared the appointments of the service chiefs without the National Assembly’s approval as void, because such does not conform with Section 18 (1) and (2) of the Armed Forces Act, Cap. A20, Laws of the Federation.

The case, instituted by Lagos lawyer, Festus Keyamo, had challenged the practice of appointing military chiefs by the President without seeking the approval of the National Assembly.

Keyamo had argued in court that the appointments of service chiefs, who are political appointees, could not be different from other political office holders that require the confirmation of the National Assembly such as the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justices of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, ministers, and so on.

Based on the ruling, which has not been appealed till date, former President Goodluck Jonathan sought and got the approval of the National Assembly in January 2014 when he named Air Vice Marshal Alex Badeh as Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Kenneth Minimah, Chief of Army Staff; Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin, Chief of Naval Staff; and Air Vice Marshal Adesola Nunayon Amosu as the Chief of the Air Staff.

Meanwhile disturbed by the increasing public outcry, the Media Office of the Senate President had in a statement signed by its chief Press Secretary, Sanni Onogu, noted “that based on inquiries made by the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki on whether the Senate was consulted before the appointment of new Service Chiefs was announced, he had in response tweeted that the appointment of Service Chiefs is the exclusive function of the President as stipulated by the Constitution.

“Let it be known that his comment is now being misinterpreted to say the Senate will neither screen nor confirm the new Service Chiefs. This is far from the truth.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Saraki has said his comment is without prejudice to extant laws and court pronouncements on the issue and therefore that the Senate will do the needful when the list of the new Service Chiefs is sent to it by Mr. President.”