A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday ordered the National Assembly to file its reply to the suit by senior citizens from South and the Middle Belt of Nigeria challenging alleged lopsided public appointments and loans expenditure under the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, gave the National Assembly, 30 days to reply, having been joined as the 5th defendant by the applicants.
The Court also granted leave to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Attorney General of the Federation to regularise their replies, which was filed out of time. The judge further ordered that all the processes be filed and exchanged before the next adjourned date of January 13, 2021. In the suit filed by their counsel, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), the senior citizens are demanding a reversal of the appointments and the sum of N50 billion in punitive, aggravated and exemplary damages against the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government over the alleged violations of the constitution since the inception of the administration in 2015.
The 16 elders are: Edwin Clark, Reuben Fasoranti, John Nnia Nwodo, Dr Pogu Bitrus, Ayo Adebanjo, Alaowei Broderick Bozimo, Sarah Doketri and Chukwuemeka Ezeife. Others are: Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, Sen Kofoworola Bucknor- Akerele, Prof Julie Umukoro, Elder Stephen Bangoji, Tjani Babatunde, Rose Obuoforibo, Adakole Ijogi, and Charles Nwakeaku.
The defendants are the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Attorney General of the Federation, Clerk of National Assembly, and the Federal Character Commission. The elders said it was “reckless and adverse to the interest of Nigeria” to obtain foreign loans of $22.7 billion for infrastructure development, only to allocate the bulk of the fund to the Northern region with less than 1 per cent of the amount to the South East Zone, which “violates section 16 (1) (a) (b) and S16 (2) (a) (b) (c) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).”