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Contempt: Court okays suit seeking removal of Chief of Army Staff

By Ameh Ochojila, Abuja
05 December 2022   |   4:07 am
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has okayed a suit seeking to compel President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately sack Chief of Army Staff, General Faruk Yahaya, following the judgment that convicted and sentenced him to prison for contempt.

[FILES] Lt.-Gen. Faruk Yahaya

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has okayed a suit seeking to compel President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately sack Chief of Army Staff, General Faruk Yahaya, following the judgment that convicted and sentenced him to prison for contempt.

A High Court in Niger State had, in a ruling it delivered on November 30, ordered that the army chief be remanded at the prison in Minna.

Justice Halima Ibrahim Abdulmalik, who gave the ruling, ordered that Yahaya be remanded alongside the Commandant (Training and Doctrine Command), Minna, Major General Stevenson Olugbenga Olabanji, for willfully disobeying an order it made on October 12, 2022.

In the fresh action, a constitutional lawyer, Mr. Jideobi Johnmary, approached the High Court, asking it to determine: “Whether, having regard to the provision of Section 287(3) of the amended 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is possessed of the constitutional powers to appoint as Chief of Army Staff, a man who has been convicted and serving jail term as a result of the sentence imposed on him by a court of competent jurisdiction, following his conviction for the crime of contempt of court?”

“Whether, having regard to the provision of Section 287(3) of the amended 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the 1st defendant, who has been convicted and sentenced to prison, on November 30, 2022, by the High Court of Niger State of Nigeria, can continue to validly discharge functions and exercise the powers of Chief of Army Staff of the Nigerian Army established by the Constitution?”

Aside from Yahaha, also cited as 2nd and 3rd defendants in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/2236/2022, are Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami.

Upon determination of the legal questions, the plaintiff is, among other things, seeking: “An order of this honourable court declaring vacant the seat of the Chief of Army Staff of Nigerian Army.

“An order directing the most immediate senior military officer in the Nigerian Army, after the Chief of Army Staff, to take over management of the affairs of the Nigerian Army, pending when the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria appoints a new Chief of Army Staff.”

No date has been fixed for hearing of the suit.