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25 months after, Agbakoba asks court to sack PMB as minister

Former president of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, on Monday, approached an Abuja Federal High Court, seeking the enforcement of Section 138 of the 1999 Constitution which forbids the President from “holding any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever.”

The fresh suit was silent on the promise of President Muhammadu Buhari during the inauguration of his cabinet about 25 months ago on September 2015 that he will only hold the post of Minister of Petroleum for 18 months. The 18 months elapsed on March this year and he has remained both the President of Nigeria and Minister of Petroleum Resources.

The respondent in the suit is the Attorney General of the Federation and the court is yet to fix any date for hearing.

Business Hilights had on Monday, carried a report that President Buhari had reneged in his promise that he will only hold the post for 18 months as he is currently in the position for 25 months considering the fact that the cabinet was inaugurated in September 2015.

Agbakoba in his prayers recalled that contrary to the dictates of the Constitution, there was no time President Buhari was not screened for the ministerial job by the Senate.

He therefore asked 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?”

In his submission, the legal luminary argued that with his over 40 years experience and having checked the Constitution, expressed conviction that under the Constitution which he; President  Buhari has sworn to uphold, cannot legally hold the office of the Minister of Petroleum Resources and thus urged the court to declare the position vacant for another person to occupy.

In the 14-paragraph affidavit, which he personally deposed to in support of his suit, Agbakoba averred that the lawsuit was informed by the recent management crisis which engulfed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), on account of disagreements between the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, and the Group Managing Director of the NNPC.

According to him, “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 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,” Agbakoba said.