The Federal High Court today sitting in Abuja and presided over by Hon. Justice Adamu Bello has declared the appointment of Service Chiefs of the federation unconstitutional, illegal, null and void, and restrained the President from further appointing them without the approval of the Senate.

The decision is sequel to a case instituted in 2008 by Mr. Festus Keyamo against the President, and restates the power dynamics between the executive and the legislature.

A statement from Festus Keyamo Chambers recalled that Mr. Keyamo had asked the court to pronounce on:

•    Whether by the combined interpretation of the provisions of Section 218 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and Section 18 of the Armed Forces Act, Cap. A.20, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, the 1st Defendant can appoint the Chief of Air Staff, the Chief of Army Staff, and the Chief of Naval Staff without the confirmation of the National Assembly sought and obtained, and

•    Whether Section 18 (1) & (2) of the Armed Forces Act, Cap. A.20, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 is not in conformity with the provision of the 1999 Constitution so as to fall within the category of existing laws under Section 315 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, that the President, may, by Order, modify its text, to bring it into conformity with the provisions of the Constitution.

The court also declared that Section 18 (1) & (2) of the Armed Forces Act, Cap. A.20, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, is in conformity with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution so as not to fall within the category of existing laws under Section 315 (2) - of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999, and that the President, may, by order, modify its text, to bring it into conformity with the provisions of the constitution.

It further restrained the President from further appointing Service Chiefs for the Federation without first obtaining the confirmation of the National Assembly.

The pronouncement by the court is a huge professional and political victory for Mr. Keyamo, providing a much-needed boost to the rule of law in the country and inflicting an important dent on the arrogance of the executive.  It also challenges the legislature, which under the Peoples Democratic Party tends to act as an extension of the executive, to stand up for itself and implement the constitution in both letter and spirit.
 

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