A judgement passed today by a Federal High Court in Abuja, absolved President Buhari of blame as Oil Minister following Ibe Kachikwu’s appointment as Minister of State, Petroleum Resources (assistant minister).
The judgement was passed on the suit filed by a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), who urged the court to restrain Buhari from continuing to hold the office of the Minister of Petroleum Resources.
While Olisa Agbakoba had contended that Section 138 of the 1999 Constitution forbids the President from “holding any other executive office or paid employment”, the court explained that the phrase “hold” in Section 138 of the constitution “meant to preside, act, to possess, occupy or conduct the actual day to day running of the office.”
The court further disclosed that there would have been a violation if Buhari had not appointed someone else — Dr. Ibe Kachikwu — to oversee the day-to-day running of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
“Merely proclaiming/announcing that he (the President) was the Minister of Petroleum is not enough to conclude that he holds the office of minister,” the court reportedly declared.
In his 14-paragraph affidavit, Olisa Agbakoba who contended that Buhari was not screened for the ministerial job by the Senate as required by the constitution, urged the court to determine “whether, by virtue of Section 147(2) of the 1999 Constitution, the President can hold the office of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, without confirmation by the Senate of the National Assembly.”
“I verily believe that the governance chaos in the NNPC could not have occurred if the President is not also the Minister of Petroleum Resources.
“I am aware that the NNPC provides up to 90 percent of the revenue accruing to Nigeria. I am worried that the crisis in the NNPC will greatly reduce Nigeria’s revenue-generating capacity and will affect the revenue distributable to federal, state and local governments in Nigeria.
“This will gravely affect development nationwide and drastically impact one 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 the Minister of Petroleum, during his tenure of office as President.
“I 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,” Agbakoba had said.