Keyamo to GEJ: Obey Court Ruling on Appointment of Service Chiefs
Human rights lawyer, Barrister Festus Keyamo has written President Goodluck Jonathan to protest non-adherence with the judgement of Honourable Justice A. Bello of the Federal High Court, Abuja nullifying the appointments of service chiefs for lacking the approval of both the Senate and the Federal House of Representatives.
A copy of the letter, titled Refusal to Obey and Comply with Judgment in Respect of Appointments of Service Chiefs , was also sent to President of the Nigerian Senate, David Mark and Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Honourable Aminu Tambuwal.
'Kindly recall that on the 1st day of July, 2013, I obtained a court judgment in the case of FESTUS KEYAMO V. PRESIDENT & 4 ORS, delivered by the Honourable Justice A. Bello of the Federal High Court, Abuja wherein he declared that the appointments of service chiefs (The Chief of Air Staff, the Chief of Army Staff and the Chief of Naval Staff) without the approval of both the Senate and the House of Representatives is null and void in line with Section 18(1) and (2) of the Armed Forces Act, Cap. A20, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004', Keyamo wrote.
'For the avoidance of doubt, I enclose herewith a copy of the Judgment. Up till now, no appeal has been filed against that judgment. It goes without saying that all the present service chiefs namely: Lt-General Azubuike Ihejirika (Chief of Army Staff), Air Vice Marshal Alex Sabundu Badeh (Chief of the Air Staff) and Rear Admiral Dele Joseph Ezeoba (Chief of Naval Staff) were appointed without the confirmation of the National Assembly. Their appointments are therefore null and void ab initio .
'Your Excellencies, and Honourable Speaker may I, most respectfully remind you that ours is a constitutional democracy founded on the rule of law and not the rule of force.
'In fact, that is why the real intent of Section 18 of the Armed Forces Act is to subject the Armed Forces to civil authority. It is also pertinent to observe that neither the president nor the service chiefs are constitutionally superior to the National Assembly'.
The lawyer argued that consequently, the appointments of service chiefs, which are political, cannot be different from other political appointments that require the confirmation of the National Assembly, such as those of Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justices of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Ministers of the Federation and Ambassadors.
'Please do not give Nigerians the impression that the Military is still above the law', he wrote.
'The most embarrassing of this scenario is that the custodians of the power of confirmation, that is the National Assembly, despite folding its arms whilst my humble self (a private citizen) proceeded to court to give life to its constitutional powers, has even refused to do anything to comply with the judgment when a court of law has clearly given life to that power. It is sad for our democracy.
'As it is today, all official actions taken by the service chiefs since the 1st of July, 2013, when Judgment was delivered are null, void and of no effect in the eyes of the law. It only needs someone who is affected by their official actions to challenge their authority in a court of law'.
Keyamo added that in the circumstance and the spirit of compliance with court judgments, obedience to and respect for the rule of law, the president should direct, advise and enforce compliance with the judgment of the Federal High Court given on the 1st of July, 2013.
'If within FOURTEEN DAYS of the receipt of this letter, you all fail to act, I, as a patriot and free citizen of this country, will have no option but to head back to the court to compel compliance. The ball is in your court', he concluded.