The Federal High Court in Abuja has ruled that President Muhammadu Buhari cannot legally double as President and the Minister of Petroleum Resources.
The court however absolved Buhari of any breach of the law.
Declaring that though Buhari cannot legally hold the office of Minister of Petroleum Resources and that of President, his appointment of somebody to see to the day-to-day activities of the ministry absolves him of any wrongdoing.
Agbakoba, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), had in his suit before the court asked that Buhari be restrained from continuing to hold the office of the Minister of Petroleum Resources.
He had argued that Section 138 of the 1999 Constitution forbids the President from “holding any other executive office or paid employment.”
But disclosing the ruling of the court in a statement on Friday by his office, Agbakoba said the court in deciding the case held that Buhari had not violated Section 138, since he is not directly in charge of the day-to-day running of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
According to the statement, the court in its ruling, had held that there would have been a violation if Buhari had not appointed Dr. Ibe Kachikwu to oversee the day-to-day running of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
The statement read, “The court explained that the phrase ‘hold’ in Section 138 of the constitution ‘meant to preside, act, to possess, occupy or conduct the actual day to day running of the office.’
“Merely proclaiming / announcing that he ( the President) was the Minister of Petroleum is not enough to conclude that he holds the office of minister.”
In details, Agbakoba had told the court that as a legal practitioner with 40 years experience and having checked the Constitution, he was convinced that President Muhammadu Buhari cannot legally hold the office of the Minister of Petroleum Resources and thus urged the court to sack him.
He further argued that Buhari was not screened for the ministerial job by the Senate , as required by the constitution.
He had therefore urged the court to determine “whether by virtue of Section 147 (2) of the 1999 Constitution, the President can hold the office of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, without confirmation by the Senate of the National Assembly .”
In a 14- paragraph affidavit, which he personally deposed to in support of his suit, Agbakoba explained (during the period the suit was filed) that the lawsuit was informed by the recent management crisis which engulfed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, on account of disagreements between the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, and the Group Managing Director of the NNPC.
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