Appointment Of New Service Chiefs Not In Compliance With Law- Falana

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The Alliance for the Survival of COVID- 19 and Beyond (ASCAB), on Wednesday said the appointments of service chiefs on Tuesday by President Muhammadu Buhari without National Assembly’s approval did not conform to Section 18 (1) and (2) of the Armed Forces Act, Cap. A20, Laws of the Federation.

President Buhari had on Tuesday removed service chiefs and appointed a new set of officers to replace them.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in a statement titled, ‘President Buhari appoints new service chiefs’, named officers who would head the nation’s armed forces.

According to him, they include Chief of Defence Staff, Major-General Lucky Irabor; Chief of Army Staff, Major-General I. Attahiru; Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral A. Z. Gambo, and the Chief of Air Staff, Air-Vice Marshal Isiaka Amao.

In a statement on Wednesday, ASCAB chairman, Femi Falana (SAN), said the appointment was not in compliance with the relevant provisions of the Constitution and the Armed Forces Act. 

He said, “Yesterday, President Buhari was reported to have appointed new service chiefs for the armed forces. Upon a critical review of the law on the subject matter, the members of the Alliance on Surviving Covid-19 and Beyond (ASCAB) have found that the appointments remain inchoate as President Muhammadu Buhari has not forwarded the names of the proposed service chiefs  to the National Assembly for approval in strict compliance with the relevant provisions of the Constitution and the Armed Forces Act. 

“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). 

“In his landmark 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 singlehandedly appoint 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.

“Because it was acknowledged that the judgment was sound and unimpeachable, the Federal Government did not challenge any aspect of it at the Court of Appeal. To that extent, the judgment is binding on all authorities and persons in Nigeria in accordance with the provisions of section 287of the Constitution.

“ASCAB is therefore compelled to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to forward the names of the proposed service chiefs to both houses of the National Assembly for confirmation forthwith. Otherwise, the said appointments are liable to be set aside on the basis of the valid and subsisting judgment of the Federal High Court.”

Section 18 (1) and (2) of the Armed Forces Act, Cap. A20, Laws of the Federation as seen by SaharaReporters read, “The President, may, after consultation with the Chief of Defence Staff and subject to confirmation by the National Assembly, appoint such officers (in this Act referred to as ‘the 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; (2) The Service Chiefs shall be known (a) in the case of the Army, as the Chief of Army Staff; (b) in the case of the Navy, as the Chief of Naval Staff;  and (c) in the case of the Air Force, as the Chief of Air Staff.”

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