Nigerian military keeps mum as court sacks service chiefs

Federal High Court Headquarters

The court declared their appointment illegal.

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, Monday, declared the appointment by the president of all Service Chiefs of the Federation unconstitutional and illegal.

Justice Adamu Bello held that the appointments were null and void and restrained the President from further appointing the chiefs of Air Staff, Army Staff, and Naval Staff without the approval of the Senate.

The case, instituted in 2008 by Festus Keyamo, against the President, joined the Attorney General and the three service chiefs as respondents.

Mr. Keyamo sought the legality of the president’s appointment of three service chiefs without obtaining the confirmation of the National Assembly.

In his ruling, Mr. Bello also held 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, 1999.

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The Act states that the President, may, by order, modify its text, to bring it into conformity with the provisions of the Constitution.

Mr. Keyamo told PREMIUM TIMES that the ruling effectively nullifies the appointments of all the military chiefs.

“They have been removed from office, that’s what it means. Even if they want to appeal, the judgment still stands,” Mr. Keyamo said in a telephone interview.

“They would know that the law is superior to them,” he added.

Azubuike Ihejirika, the Chief of Army Staff, was appointed in 2010; Alex Badeh, Chief of Air Staff, was appointed in 2012; and Joseph Ezeoba, Chief of Naval Staff, was also appointed in 2012.

In October 2012, President Goodluck Jonathan reshuffled and retired the service chiefs with Mr. Ihejirika being the only officer to retain his post.

Efforts to reach military spokespersons were not successful.

The spokesperson of the Nigerian military, Chris Olukolade, said that he was busy and would “call back later.”

The Army Spokesperson, Ibrahim Attahiru, said he would respond to the ruling on Tuesday.

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