The Prominent Civil Rights Advocacy group HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has offered reasons why it has dragged to the Federal High Court of Justice, President Muhammadu Buhari over violations of the Federal Character Principle as provided for in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In a statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf said that the SUMMARY OF ISSUES IN RE: SUIT NO.FHC/ABJ/CS/534/2020-THE REGISTERED TRUSTEES OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) & ORS V. THE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA & 6ORS are as follows:
Date of filing: May 27, 2020.
Court: Federal High Court, Abuja.
Coram:Hon. Justice A.I. Chikere.
Scheduled date of case:July 6, 2020.
Legal Issues raised in the suit:
The core provisions of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund (Establishment) Act (the Act) violate several provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
(a) The Act establishes a Trust Fund as a juristic person and also a Board of Trustees with wide powers for the management and administration of the trust fund. (Sections 3, 7 and 12 of the Act).
It also establishes a Trust Fund Implementation Committee headed by the Minister of Police Affairs and provides for the Board to identify funding needs through the Ministry of Police Affairs (sections 13 and 15).
- However the Constitution establishes the Nigeria Police Council for the administration, management and supervision of the Nigeria Police Force and all related matters except the operational use of the Force which is the function of the Nigeria Police Service Commission. (Section 153(1)(l) and (m) of the Constitution as well as items 27, 28, 29 and 30 of the 3rd Schedule to the Constitution.
(b) The Act arrogates to the Trust Fund as source of funds “an amount constituting 0.5% of the total revenue accruing to the Federation Account” (See section 4(1) of the Act.)
- That provision of the Act violates section 162(3) of the Constitution which provides that money standing to the credit of the Federation Account shall be distributed among the federal, state and local governments.
- It also usurps the powers of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (see section 153(1)(n) and Item 31 of the 3rd Schedule to the Constitution as well as section 6 of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission Act).
(2)The purported appointment of the Board of Trustees of the Police Trust Fund is in breach of the principle of federal character. The President appointed a seven man Board of Trustees of the Police Trust Fund out of which 4 are from the Northwest zone alone. Among the four (4) from the Northwest zone, two are the principle officers of the Board being the Chairman in the person of Mr Suleiman Abba (Jigawa State) and the Executive Secretary, Mr Aliyu Sokoto (Sokoto State). Again the Secretary and the Minister of Police Affairs, Mr Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi hail from the same State (Sokoto).
- This is a gross violation of the principle of federal character entrenched in the Constitution and subsidiary legislation. The combined effect of Sections 14(3) & (4) and 42 (1)(a)&(b) of the Constitution is that appointment should be strictly in line with the federal character principle and not reflect “predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies”.
- To this end, section 153(1)(c) of the Constitution establishes the Federal Character Commission empowered under Item 8(a) of the 3rd Schedule to the Constitution and section 4(1)(a) of the Federal Character Commission (Establishment) Act to work out an equitable formula for distribution of appointment. Pursuant to same, section 4 of the Federal Character Commission (Establishment) Act Subsidiary Legislation provides that where positions available cannot go round the federation, it shall be distributed on zonal basis and where there are only two positions, it should be zoned to the North and South.
Reliefs being sought in the Suit:
The suit seeks, principally, a nullification of the Act or the sections inconsistent with the Constitution or alternatively, a nullification of the purported appointment of the Trustees of the Board by the President for being in breach of the federal character principle.