Sacking of Service Chiefs: I have been vindicated
I note that the statement of the Spokesman to President Jonathan relieving the Service Chiefs of their appointments and announcing the new appointees stipulates that the appointments will only take effect subject to approval by the National Assembly. I have shouted myself hoarse in the last few years that the previous appointments of Service Chiefs without Legislative approval is patently illegal. Past Attorneys-General did not listen. My case challenging their appointments is still pending at the Federal High Court, Abuja. Now the Federal Government have come to terms with the law.
Now the question we must ask is, what happens to the past Service Chiefs whose appointments were never confirmed by the National Assembly? Surely in the eyes of the law they were never Service Chiefs. They are not entitled to pensions or gratuities as past Service Chiefs. My prayer to the court will be to stop their emoluments as retired Service Chiefs.
Kindly find below my letter which I wrote in 2008 that was ignored:
“Sunday, August 31, 2008.
The Senate President,
The Speaker, House of Representatives,
National Assembly Complex,
Dear Distinguished President and Honourable Speaker,
THE ILLEGALITY OF THE APPOINTMENT OF SERVICE CHIEFS BY THE PRESIDENT
On Wednesday, August 20, 2008, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua announced the appointment of new Service Chiefs for the country namely:
1. Air Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin (Air Force)
2. Major General A. Bello Dambazau (Army)
3. Rear Admiral Isaiah Ibrahim (Navy).
The announcement was made by the Special Adviser to the President on Communications, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, who merely said the President has approved the appointments “with immediate effect”.
These appointments and announcement are null, void and of no effect for the following reasons:
1. The powers of the President to appoint Service Chiefs is provided for in Section 218 (1),(2),(3) &(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, which states as follows:
“(1) The powers of the President as the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of the Federation shall include power to determine the operational use of the armed forces of the Federation.
(2) The powers conferred on the President by subsection (1) of this section shall include power to appoint the Chief of Defence Staff, the Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff, the Chief of Air Staff and heads of any other branches of the armed forces of the Federation as may be established by an Act of the National Assembly.
(3) The President may, by directions in writing and subject to such conditions as he may think fit, delegate to any member of the armed forces of the Federation his powers relating to the operational use of the Armed Forces of the Federation.
(4) The National Assembly shall have power to make laws for the regulation of:
(a) the powers exercisable by the President as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation; and
(b) the appointment, promotion and disciplinary control of members of the armed forces of the Federation.
2. The Act of the National Assembly referred to by the Constitution is the Armed Forces Act, Cap. A20, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 which is extant by virtue of Section 315 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
Section 18 (1) and (2) of the said Armed Forces Act states as follows:
“(1) 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 Chief”) as he thinks fit, in whom the command of the Army, Navy and Air Forcce, as the case may be, and their Reserve shall be vested.
(2) The Service Chief shall be known –
(a) in the case of the Nigerian Army, as the Chief of Army Staff;
(b) in the case of Nigerian Navy, as the Chief of Navy Staff; and
(c) in the case of the Air Force, as the Chief of Air Staff.”
3. It is therefore clear that the President must first present the name of the Service Chiefs of the National Assembly and their appointments cannot take effect unless the National Assembly confirms the said appointments. This has not been done in this case. As a result, the appointments recently announced are null, void and of no effect.
The National Assembly should call the President to order.
FESTUS KEYAMO, ESQ.”