Court declares Buhari’s appointment of FCC chairperson, secretary illegal

A verdict from the Federal High Court in Abuja has declared the appointment of Muheeba Dankaka as Federal Character Commission (FCC) Chairperson and Secretary, Bello Tukur, by former President Muhammadu Buhari as illegitimate.

In April 2020, Buhari appointed 38 individuals, including the chairperson and secretary, to the FCC board. This move has faced legal scrutiny, with Festus Onifade filing a lawsuit against the former President and the Attorney-General of the Federation, challenging the appointments of Dankaka and Tukur.

The legal proceedings, identified as FHC/ABJ/CS/709/2021, included the FCC, Muheeba Dankaka, and Bello Tukur as the third, fourth, and fifth defendants, respectively.

Onifade contended that the former President’s selection of Dankaka and Tukur, both hailing from the North Central region, violated the 1999 Constitution as amended and the National Assembly Act.

He said, “The appointment by first respondent of the fourth and fifth respondents is unlawful, unconstitutional null and void ab nitio for non-compliance with Section 7 and 8 (1) & (2) a,b,c of the third Schedule, Part 1 of 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (Amended), Section 4(1) of the Subsidiary Legislation (Guiding principles and formulae for the distribution of all cadres of posts) 1997 of the Federal Character Commission (Establishment, Act 1995.”

He petitioned for a declaration that the President (1st defendant) is obligated to adhere to and uphold the stipulations of Sections 7 and 8 (1), (2) (a) (b) (c) of the Third Schedule, part 1 of the 1999 Constitution (As Amended) when appointing individuals to the positions of chairman and Secretary of the FCC.

He also requested an order instructing the President to promptly disband and reconstitute the FCC’s board in alignment with the established laws.

In rendering the judgment on Wednesday, Justice Inyang Ekwo affirmed that the former President failed to conform to the constitutional provisions and the FCC Act in the appointment of Tukur and Dankaka.

He said, “Therefore, I find that there has been failure of the 1st defendant to comply with the provision of Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), Section 4 (1) (a) of the FCC Establishment Act, 2004 and Section 4 of the Guiding Principles and Formulae for the Distribution of all Cadres of Posts,1997 made pursuant to Section 4 (1) (a) of the FCCE Act, 2004.”