3rd December, 2015
A human rights and public interest litigation lawyer, John Nwobodo has sued President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation at the Federal High Court Abuja over the dichotomy in the status of ministers of government of the federation.
The Plaintiff in the suit marked as FHC/ABJ/CS/9942015 is seeking the determination of three questions namely:
(1) Whether the 1st defendant in the exercise of the powers conferred on him under section 147 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) is not bound to appoint one Minister from each State, who shall be so designated and not otherwise.
(2) Whether the designation or appellation “Minister of State” or “State Minister of” with its diminutive status is not discriminatory against the states from which Ministers of such designation were appointed and therefore unconstitutional.
(3) Whether the designation or appellation “Minister of State” or “State Minister of” is not a derogation of the spirit and letter of section 147(3) which intended equality in number and by extension equality in status, benefits and privileges.
Consequent to the questions of law, the plaintiff is seeking the 4 reliefs namely:
(A) A DECLARATION that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in exercising his powers under section 147 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) must appoint one Minister from each State of the Federation all of whom shall be of equal status and must be designated strictly as “Minister”.
(B) A DECLARATION that the designation or appellation “Minister of State” or “State Minister for” which carries the connotation of inferiority to full or substantive “Minister” and which renders such “Minister of State” or “State Minister for” subservient or put him/her in a position to take instruction or answerable to a full or substantive “Minister” is a strange contraption, alien to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and therefore unconstitutional.
(C) AN ORDER directing the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to put all the 36 Ministers of the Government of the Federation at par with each other in terms of status, benefit and privileges.
(D) AN ORDER directing the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to designate Ministers in the same Ministry with the same appellation such as “Joint Minister”, “Co-Minister” or with such terms which denote equality and to in particular effect such re-designation in respect of 12 State Ministers viz Heineken Lokpobiri, State Minister for Agriculture (Bayelsa); Mustapha Baba Shehuri, State Minister for Power, Works & Housing (Borno State); Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, State Minister of Petroluem (Delta State); Osagie Ehanire, State Minister for Health (Edo State); Prof. Anthony Anwuka, State Minister for Education (Imo State); Sen, Hadi Sirika, State Minister of Transport (Aviation) (Katsina State); James Ocholi, State Minister for Labour and Employment (Kogi State); Ibrahim Usman Jibril, State Minister for Environment (Nasarawa State); Abubakar Bawa Bwari, State Minister of Solid Minerals (Niger State); Cladius Omoleye Daramola, State Minister for Niger Delta (Ondo State); Aisha Abubakar, State Minister for Trade and Investment (Sokoto State) and Khadija Bukar Ibrahim, State Minister for Foreign Affairs (Yobe State).