A human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana, yesterday said he would file court process this week to seek the removal of the service chiefs based on the expiration of their tenure.
Falana, who spoke at Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme, argued that it was illegal for President Muhammadu Buhari to extend the tenure of the service chiefs.
When asked why no one had challenged the matter in court if indeed it was illegal, Falana said, “I can assure you that it is already being escalated. To the best of my knowledge, a suit will be filed during the week in respect of this matter.”
Falana recalled that activist, Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN), who now serves as the Minister of State for Labour and Employment had sued the President Goodluck Jonathan’s government for failing to seek the approval of the Senate before appointing the service chiefs.
He said the Federal High Court had stated while delivering judgment that the National Assembly must approve the appointment of service chiefs before they can be installed.
The activist said it stands to reason that if the Senate approved the appointment of service chiefs, then the Senate’s approval must be sought before their tenure could be extended.
The senior advocate said, “My colleague who is now a minister in this government, secured a judgment that service chiefs must be approved by the Senate and President Jonathan had to seek the approval of the National Assembly in line with the judgment of the court.
“Now, going by that judgment, the President cannot extend the expired tenure of service chiefs without going to the National Assembly. So, when the House of Representatives recently passed a resolution that the service chiefs should go, they should have relied on the judgment to say you cannot extend without approval if you cannot appoint without our approval.”
When asked if he implied that Buhari was breaking the law, Falana responded, “for sure.”
Falana said under the Public Service Rules and the Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service of Military Officers and under Section 26 of the Armed Forces Act, there was no provision for the extension of tenure beyond the period stipulated by law.
The activist said it was wrong even though it had been done in the past.
“You cannot extend the tenure of certain officers while you ask others to go upon putting in 35 years in office,” he said.