Mr Femi Falana, a constitutional lawyer, has criticised the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, and his Labour and Productivity counterpart, Dr Chris Ngige, for allegedly withdrawing their resignation letters on Friday.
Senator Chris Ngige, the minister of Labour and Employment, announced on Friday that he had dropped his presidential bid and will remain in office as minister, just hours after a farewell meeting with the president.
The minister stated that he had informed the president and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation of his decision.
Malami was also said to have cancelled his decision to run for governor of Kebbi State in order to keep his job as Minister of Justice.
However, Falana claimed on Friday that the withdrawal violated Section 306 (2) of the 1999 Constitution.
The statement is titled, “Withdrawal of Resignation Letters by Former Ministers Is Illegal.”
Falana said that nine ministers in the President Buhari’s cabinet resigned to pursue political ambitions.
He further clarified that only a re-appointment by the President, if approved by the Nigerian Senate, could bring them back to the Federal Executive Council.
He said: “At the last Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, May 11, 2022, President Muhammadu Buhari directed all Ministers and other political appointees who aspire to contest for elective offices in the 2023 General Elections to resign their appointments.
“In compliance with the directive, nine Ministers resigned their appointments. The former Ministers are Rotimi Amaechi, Godswill Akpabio, Ogbonnaya Onu, Timipre Sylva, Chris Ngige, Abubakar Malami (SAN), Uche Ogah, Pauline Tallen and Chief Tayo Alasoadura.
“In a farewell meeting held with the former Ministers on Friday, May 13, 2022, President Buhari thanked them for serving the nation sacrificially, ”with dignity and honour.
“While wishing them success in the upcoming elections and in future endeavours, the President commended them for their decision and courage to contest for elective offices and their compliance with his directive.”
Falana outlined the purported constitutional flaw in pulling back their resignation decision.
“Having resigned from the Buhari administration Mr Abubakar Malami SAN and Dr Chris Ngige were reported to have withdrawn their letters of resignation after the farewell meeting.
“Such withdrawal is illegal as it constitutes a gross contravention of section 306 (2) of the constitution which stipulates that “The resignation of any person from any office established by this constitution shall take effect when the writing signifying the resignation is received by the authority or person to whom it is addressed or by any person authorised by that authority or person to receive it.”
“Since the resignation of the former ministers has taken effect, they cannot return to the cabinet either on their own volition or on the directive of the President. The resignation of the Ministers is not a cabinet reshuffle. It is akin to the removal of the former ministers by the President.
“Therefore, if the former ministers are going to be reappointed, the president is required by section 147 of the Constitution to submit names to the Senate for fresh screening and confirmation.”
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