The Senate on Tuesday introduced a bill that will compel the president to reflect federal character in the appointments of service chiefs.
The bill, titled “Armed Forces Service Commission (Est, etc) Bill, 2020”, is sponsored by the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe. It is aimed at ensuring that no part of Nigeria is left out or ignored in the appointment of service chiefs.
It also proposes that the appointment of Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Director of Military Intelligence and the heads of other arm-bearing security agencies shall be appointed subject to recommendations by the Senate.
The bill comes amidst criticism of the president’s choice of appointments for the service chiefs.
Many have accused Mr Buhari of nepotism as most of the service chiefs are from the north.
The bill seeks the establishment of an Armed Forces Service Commission, which shall have the power and authority to ensure that the composition and appointment of service chiefs of the Armed Forces of the Federation reflects federal character of Nigeria in the manner prescribed in section 217 (3) of the 1999 Constitution – in accordance with section 219 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
The Federal Character Commission, as one of the Federal Executive Bodies established under section 153(1) of the 1999 Constitution, also has the constitutional mandate in Paragraph 8, Part 1 of the 3rd schedule to the Constitution to ensure compliance with the Federal Character principle provided for in section 14 (3) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution, and shall work Out an equitable formula subject to the approval of the National Assembly for the distribution of all cadres of posts in the public service of the Federation, and of the States, the Armed Forces, the Nigerian police Force and Other government Security Agencies, government owned companies and parastatals.
The bill in detail
A bill for an Act to establish Armed Forces Commission and Other Related Matter 2020 Enacted Pursuant to section 219 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
Establishment and composition
* The Commission shall be a corporate body with the power to sue and be sued in its corporate name.
* The administrative headquarters of the Commission shall be in the Federal Capital Territory and the Commission may when practicable establish zonal offices.
* The Commission shall have a seal, stamp and any other mark bearing its name and logo as symbol of authority and as approved by the Management.
* The management board of the Commission shall be the final and highest decision making of the Commission and all management/administrative decision(s) shall be reached by consensus of all members present at such sitting.
* The Board shall meet regularly as the chairman in consultation with the secretary may deem fit, but not less than ten times in a year.
Powers and functions of the commission
1. The Commission shall have the power and authority pursuant to section 219 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) to ensure that the composition/appointment of Service Chiefs of the Armed Forces of the Federation reflects federal character of Nigeria in the manner prescribed in section 217 (3) of the 1999 Constitution.
2. The Commission shall ensure that the functions specified in section 217 of the 1999 Constitution; and the powers exercisable by the President in the appointment of Service Chiefs and Officers Corps and other Ranks of the Armed Forces of the Federation in section 218 of the 1999 constitution reflects Federal Character of Nigeria.
3. As from the date of commencement of this Act, the Commission shall have the power to recommend to the President from among the best and most qualified, most educated and most experienced members of the Armed Forces of the Federation for appointment as (a) Chief of Defence Staff (b) Chief of Army Staff (c) Chief of Air Staff (d) Chief of Naval Staff (e) Director of Military intelligence; And Heads of other Arm-bearing Security Agencies and ensure that such appointments reflects federal character principle of Nigeria.
4. Recommend to the President the removal from office as Service Chiefs and Head of other Arm-bearing Security Agencies on ground of misconduct, abuse of office, breach of any section of the Constitution, the Armed Forces Act or any other Act of the National Assembly.
5. The Commission shall have the power to approve promotion from among the best, most competent and qualified officers as Heads of Military formations/branches such as General Officers Commanding Divisions of the Nigerian Army and their equivalent in the Navy and Air Force.
Provided that in making such recommendations the Commission shall observe the Federal Character principle and adopt an equitable template to spread the offices of the Service Chiefs, and Officers Corps and other Ranks of the Armed Forces of the Federation among the six geo-politicai zones of the Country.
6. Subject to the provisions of section 215(1) and 216(2) of the 1999 Constitution on the powers of the Nigerian Police Council to advise the President on the appointment of Inspector General of Police, and notwithstanding any other provision in any other law establishing any other security agency.
* The Commission shall have the power to recommend to the President from among the best and most qualified, most educated and most experienced officers of the Nigerian Police Force, State Security Service (SSS), National Intelligence (NIA), Office of the National Security Adviser(ONSA), and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Nigerian Custom Service, Nigerian Immigration service and Nigerian correctional service;
* The Commission shall also have the power to recommend to the President persons for appointment as Inspector General of Police, Director General of SSS, Director General NIA, Director General ONSA, and Commandant General of NSCDC, Comptroller General of Customs, Comptroller General of Immigration, Comptroller General of Immigration, Comptroller General of Prisons, and Head of the Federal Fire Service.
Provided that in making such recommendations, the Commission shall take into cognizance the federal character principle and the geo-political zones of the country that produced the four Service Chiefs provided in this section, and ensure that the Heads of other Security Agencies provided in this sub section spread equitably among the six geo-political zones of the country.
7. The Commission shall have power to make regulations in the performance of its functions to ensure that each zone of the Federation is equitably represented in the appointments of Service Chiefs and Officers Corps and other Ranks of the Armed Forces of the Federation and Heads of other Security and paramilitary and armed-bearing security agencies of the Federation, and ensuring that the most competent and qualified person from each zone is appointed at all times.
8. Notwithstanding the provision in any other law establishing the Armed Forces, Nigerian Police Force and other security/para military agencies, the Commission shall supervise and approve Upon certifying that Federal Character provided in this Act has been duly observed, all promotions in the Armed Forces of the Federation, Nigerian Police Force and other Security and para~ military and Armed-bearing security agencies of the Federation
7. Where the number of available positions cannot go round the six geopolitical zones of the Federation, the distribution of appointments shall be done between equally between the North and South. And for the avoidance of doubt, the zones referred to in this Act are:
(a) North central comprising of Benue state, Federal Capital Territory, Kogi State, Kwara State, Nassarawa state, Niger state, and plateau state.
(b) North east zone, comprising of Adamawa state, Bauchi state, Brono state, Gombe state, Taraba state and Yobe State.
(c) North west zone comprising of Jigawa State, Kaduna State, Kano State, Katsina State, Kebi State, Sokoto State, Zamfara State.
(d) South east zone comprising of Abia State, Anambra State, Ebonyi State, Enugu State, Imo State.
(e) South west zone comprising of Ekiti State, Lagos State, Ogun State, Osun State, Oyo State.
(f) South-south zone comprising of Akwa Ibom State, Bayelsa State, Cross Rivers State, Delta State, Edo State and Rivers State.
General duties of the commission
8. The general duty of the Commission is to ensure that promotions/appointments into leadership positions and officers corps and other ranks in the Armed Forces of the Federation, police and other security agencies equitably reflects federal character of Nigeria pursuant to sections 217 (3) and 219 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
9. The commission shall investigate all reported cases of breach of federal character principle under this Act and shall have the power to prosecute the head of the government agency that was responsible for the breach for the offence of: breach of equitable formula, which threatens the peace and good governance, unity and peace of the federation and likely to cause disloyalty, disaffection and disunity among Nigerians.
10. In case of a person serving as President with constitutional immunity, such prosecution will commence upon the expiration of the office that conferred him immunity.
11. The Offence created under sub section (9) this section shall be punishable with one-year imprisonment or fine of ten million naira or both.
12. Where a person has been found guilty of breach under this Act the Office he previously held and the appointment so made while in office shall be deemed nullified and the person(s) who held that nullified position/appointment will be deemed not to have held same and no such recognition or privileged shall be accorded to him.
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