Abuja indigenes sue Jonathan over exclusion from new ministerial list

GEJ-NEW-OK

IRKED by the non-inclusion of any native of Abuja in the eight ministerial nominees sent to the Senate, the original inhabitants of the Federal Capital Territory have sued President Goodluck Jonathan to the tune of N1.310bn damages for non-appointment of Abuja natives into the Federal Executive Council (FEC) since 1999. Also joined in the suit is the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke.  

   The suit was filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja by the General Counsel of the Original Inhabitants Development Association of Abuja (OIDA), Barrister Musa Baba-Panya. It also has OIDA President, Pastor Danladi Jeji as the second plaintiff. The suit has as defendants the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Attorney General of the Federation.

   In the originating summons, the Abuja natives say they are seeking a declaration that the indigenes of FCT-Abuja are entitled to ministerial appointments into the Federal Executive Council. They also want a declaration that the continuous refusal, failure or default by previous and current Presidents to appoint an indigene of FCT-Abuja as a Minister of the Federation is a flagrant violation of the constitutional rights of indigenes of FCT-Abuja.

   According to Baba-Panya, “We want a declaration that the continuous refusal, failure or default by previous and current Presidents to appoint an indigene of FCT-Abuja as a Minister of the Federation is a flagrant violation of the fundamental rights against discrimination of FCT-Abuja indigenes. 

   Since 1999, there has not been as little as a ‘personal assistant appointed in the presidential villa from amongst Abuja indigenes. Meanwhile some states have 2 or more ministers, not to talk of the retinue of other senior presidential aides’.

   He added, ‘The natives are seeking an order compelling the President (1st defendant) to the immediate appointment of an indigene of FCT-Abuja as a Minister of the Federation and an award of the sum of N50million per year since May 1999 being compensation and damages for the violation of the fundamental and constitutional rights of plaintiffs and indeed all indigenes of FCT-Abuja. An award of the sum of N500 million in exemplary damages.  The plaintiffs also want “a consequential order entrusting the compensatory damages/awards into a Trust Fund Account (in name of 2nd plaintiff) with the Central Bank of Nigeria for the benefit of all indigenes of FCT-Abuja and an award of the sum of N10million in legal costs.”

  Speaking on the development, OIDA President, Pastor Danladi Jeji said the group is also demanding “a public apology for all the years of deprivation and denials of our constitutional rights, entitlements and privileges in both print and broadcast media.”

  The plaintiffs are seeking the determination of the case by the court on whether by the combined provisions of Sections; 147(1) (3), 14(3), and 299 of the 1999 Constitution the indigenes of FCT-Abuja are entitled to ministerial appointment into the Federal Executive Council.

  They also want to know whether the continuous refusal failure and default by previous and current Presidents to so appoint an indigene of FCT-Abuja as Minister of the Federation is tantamount to a flagrant violation of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and a breach of the fundamental rights of the natives of FCT-Abuja.

   The natives say the recent nomination of eight ministerial appointees sent to the Senate by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan without the inclusion of any Abuja native is an assault on their collective intelligence especially when placed with the fact that their traditional and political leaders were promised a ministerial slot when they visited President Jonathan in 2014. No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit yet.



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