From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Activist and constitutional lawyer Musa Baba-Panya has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint an indigene of Abuja FCT as a minister to correct the ‘injustices of the past.’
The call was predicated on the recent minor cabinet reshuffle by the President.
Baba-Panya, a human rights activist and FCT indigene, made the call on Wednesday in a statement he released in Abuja.
It would be recalled that President Buhari, on September 1, approved a reshuffle in the cabinet formed on August 12, 2019.
President Muhammadu Buhari had dropped the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Nanono, and his counterpart in the Ministry of Power, Engr Sale Mamman. While he is yet to appoint a replacement, the president redeployed two ministers to assume offices in the affected ministries.
The lawyer said it was time to bring this to the President’s knowledge that there was an outstanding issue yet to be resolved in the country.
Baba-Panya reminded that apart from the fact that the Appeal Court sitting in Abuja on January 15, 2018, gave a judgment in their favour on the need for a ministerial appointment and the legal status of FCT -Abuja to be a state in accordance with the provisions of the law, the Supreme Court had also on March 13, 2020, in the case of Bakare vs. Ogundipe (2021)5 NWLR (pt. 1768)SC.1 vindicated them on the legal status of the Capital Territory, putting an end to the hitherto lingering controversy.
‘The almighty Supreme Court has spoken and once decided, it is final. You cannot appeal Supreme Court judgment. The court is infallible because it is final!
‘There is still an outstanding issue on the ministerial representative of FCT-Abuja. It is still outstanding by virtue of the Court of Appeal judgment three years ago and that as the President reconsiders reshuffling his cabinet, this is the time to bring it to his remembrance.
‘And that with the Supreme Court decision now, this is not even the Court of Appeal judgment anymore, it is an issue of obedience to the rule of law. It is simply about doing justice, impartial justice to all citizens.
‘The FCT-Abuja indigenes demand equality and justice, which they are entitled to under the constitution,’ he said.
He added on Jan 30, 2019, following a formal petition about the non-compliance with the Appeal Court judgment on behalf of the Coalition of FCT-Abuja Indigenous Associations, the Senate passed a resolution that the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should appoint a minister to represent FCT-Abuja in the Federal Executive Council.
The legal practitioner called on Buhari to do the needful by appointing an FCT-Abuja indigene as a minister.
‘My call to the president is that he should be reminded that we have very serious genuine grievances. Unlike the current practice in the country where people are resulting to violence and armed agitation, we have kept the peace, we have been very peaceful and we have chosen the path of the Rule of Law. We have not picked guns; we have not violently agitated. We went to court and the court gave us judgment.
‘Is it that the rule of law does not matter anymore in this country? Must we resort to violence, violent agitation before we are heard? Because that is what seems to operate now in this country? Only those who picked arms are listened to. Must we?
‘It is our constitutional right belonging to all 208 million Nigerians. And he should know that this is the voice of 2.5 million indigenous people; that is over one per cent of the Nigerian population.
‘Over one per cent of Nigerian population have no voice in the affairs of this government; at the federal executive council where decisions of resource allocation are taken. We have had no say since 1999; 22 good years. Not 8mins 43sec, but 22 long years, the Federal Government has had its knees on our necks. We have not been able to breathe.
‘We are talking about a voice, a constitutional right which is invaluable. You cannot quantify constitutional rights.
‘Let Buhari, just as he has addressed injustices of the past like the June 12, 1993 election, he needs to address this injustice because this issue did not arise today.
‘It started since 1999. So his administration inherited the injustice. But he can do something about it and this is the time to do it as he considers cabinet reshuffle,’ he said.