Fresh suit seeks reversal of APC zoning of NASS positions

A fresh suit filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja is seeking an order nullifying the All Progressives Congress (APC) zoning arrangement for the principal officers of the soon-to-be proclaimed 9th National Assembly (NAS).

The suit filed on Thursday by a group, Kingdom Human Rights Foundation International, and an acclaimed aggrieved member of the APC, Kenneth Uzochukwu, described the party’s zoning arrangement which they claimed excluded the South-East geopolitical zone as “unconstitutional, unjust, discriminatory and clannish.”

The APC, which constitutes the majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, had adopted Senator Ahmed Lawan from Yobe State in the North-East geopolitical zone as its candidate for the position of the Senate President and Femi Gbajabiamila from Lagos State in the South-West zone for the Speaker of the Green Chamber.

The plaintiffs noted in their suit marked, FHC/ABJ/CS/477/2019, that the party had also zoned the position of the Deputy Senate President to the South-South and that of the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives to the North-Central.

They also noted that with President Muhammadu Buhari from the North-West; the Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo from the South-West; and the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad from the North-East, it implied that the South-East zone had been totally excluded from “the political arithmetic of Nigeria.”

They contended, through their lawyer, Mr Kingdom Nnamdi, that this “breaches the express provisions, spirit and tenor of sections 14 (3) and (4) and 244 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended); and offends the Federal Character Principle of Nigeria.”

The APC, the National Assembly and the Federal Character Commission were joined in the suit as the 1st to 3rd defendants, respectively.

An affidavit deposed to by Zaro Melchizedek, a litigation clerk with Kingdom Human Rights Foundation International, stated that the APC-led Federal Government “believes in injustice, practises nepotism and has by its decision further divided  Nigerians along ethnic and geopolitical lines, contrary to the express provisions of the constitution.”

It added, “That equitable spread of elective political/appointive offices in Nigeria is constitutional by virtue of sections 14 (3) and (4) and section 224 of the 1999 Constitution and should be strictly followed in the appointment, election, selection, nomination or endorsement of all persons to occupy all  political offices in Nigeria.”

The plaintiffs therefore sought, among other prayers, an order directing, compelling the APC “to review/reverse  its unconstitutional, unjust, discriminatory and clannish   decision to zone/cede the  presiding/principal officers of the National Assembly  in a manner that offends   the Federal Character of Nigeria, provided for in section 14 (3) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).”

They also sought an order “directing and compelling the 1st defendant to observe the Federal Character Principle of Nigeria in every of its decision(s) and programme(s)  in line with the express/mandatory provisions of Section 224 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

In addition, the plaintiffs also urged the court to make an order “compelling/mandating the Federal Character Commission of Nigeria to carry out its constitutional/statutory responsibility of working out equitable formula for the distribution of all cadres of posts in the public service of the federation, particularly the present composition of the government of the federation.”

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