A former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Mr Olisa Agbakoba SAN has urged a Federal High Court in Abuja to disqualify President Muhammadu Buhari from holding office as Petroleum Minister.
Agbakoba prayed the court to declare that Section 138 of the 1999 Constitution bars the President of Nigeria from holding another executive office or paid employment, such as that of a petroleum minister.
He is also seeking a declaration that by Section 147(2) of the Constitution, the President cannot lawfully hold the office of the Minister of Petroleum Resources without confirmation by the Senate.
A restraining order, he contended, ought to be issued to bar the President from simultaneously holding a ministerial office.
Agbakoba further prayed the court to direct the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, to, within 30 days, cause an appearance to be entered on Buhari’s behalf.
In an originating summons filed yesterday, Agbakoba raised two issues for determination by the court.
He asked: “By virtue of Section 138 of the 1999 Constitution, which disqualifies the President of Nigeria from holding any other executive office or paid employment, can the Nigerian President simultaneously serve as Minister of Petroleum Resources, which is an executive office?
“By virtue of Section147(2) of the 1999 Constitution, if the President is not disqualified, can the President hold the office of Minister of Petroleum Resources, without confirmation by the Senate of the National Assembly?”
In a 14-paragraph affidavit, which he personally deposed to in support of his suit, Agbakoba explained that the basis of his suit was the recent management crisis in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), between Minister of State for Petroleum Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, and NNPC Group Managing Director Dr. Maikanti Baru.
He said: “I verily believe that the governance chaos of NNPC could not have occurred if the President is not also the Minister of Petroleum Resources.
“I am worried that the crisis in NNPC will greatly reduce Nigeria’s revenue generating capacity and will affect revenue distributable to Federal, States and Local Governments in Nigeria. This will gravely affect development nationwide and drastically impact on me and all Nigerians including those in Anambra state (my state of origin) and Lagos state (my state of residence).
“I looked at Section 138 of the 1999 Constitution and I verily believe it disqualifies the President from holding executive office including that of Minister of Petroleum, during his tenure of office as President.
“I also know that the President did not go through nomination process and confirmation by the Senate, before holding the office of Minister of Petroleum Resources
“I again looked at Section 147(2) of the 1999 Constitution and I verily believe it prohibits anybody from holding the office of a Minister of the Federation, without confirmation by the Senate.”