Some officials holding sensitive positions in the federal government have remained in their offices despite the fact that their tenures have ended.
Findings reveal that others are still in office because of the ambiguity in the laws establishing the agencies they are superintending.
Many political appointments made by President Muhammadu Buhari at the beginning of his first term in 2015 were to expire at the end of his tenure in May 2019.
In the alternative, the president has the option of renewing such appointments after he was sworn-in for a second term.
Though the president has made some fresh appointments in the recent past, he has not yet announced the reappointment of the National Security Adviser (NSA) and the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The situation is the same with the service chiefs who were appointed on July 13, 2015 and their appointments renewed in December 2017.
It took several weeks and a lot of pressure before the president announced the reappointment of Mr Boss Mustapha as Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) on Friday, July 6. He also reappointed Malam Abba Kyari as his Chief of Staff same day.
The reappointment of the two top officials was made barely 24 hours after the Coalition of United Political Parties said it had filed a suit against the Buhari administration for “illegally” keeping his former appointees in office without reappointing them.
CUPP, through its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Imo Ugochinyere, specifically named Mustapha and Kyari, among other aides, who it said were still occupying offices illegally.
A State House statement signed by Garba Shehu said “Both appointments take effect from May 29, 2019.”
Other appointments/reappointments announced on that day included Mohammed Sarki Abba (Senior Special Assistant to the President on Household and Social Events), Ya’u Shehu Darazo (Senior Special Assistant to the President on Special Duties), Dr Suhayb Rafindadi (Personal Physician to the President), Lawal A. Kazaure (State Chief of Protocol), Sabiu Yusuf (Special Assistant, Office of the President) and Saley Yuguda (Special Assistant, House Keeping).
Others are: Ahmed Mayo (Special Assistant, Finance and Administration); Mohammed Sani (Special Assistant, Special Duties); Friday Bethel (Personal Assistant, General Duties); Sunday Aghaeze (Personal Assistant, State Photographer); and Bayo Omoboriowo (Personal Assistant, Presidential Photographer).
Those still on seat
Our correspondents report that there are still senior government officials whose re-appointment or retention requires some explanation or clarification but there is nothing to that effect.
Some analysts and security experts are therefore calling on the National Assembly to do the needful as a way of sustaining democratic tenets in that regard.
Mohammed Babagana Monguno
A retired Nigerian Army Major General, Monguno was appointed by President Buhari as NSA on July 13, 2015.
General Monguno’s appointment along with Service Chiefs followed the sacking of former heads of Army, Navy and Air Force as well as the former NSA under ex- President Goodluck Jonathan, Col. Sambo Dasuki.
The NSA is a senior aide who serves as the chief advisor to the president on national security issues. He participates in the meetings of the National Security Council and other deliberations on security matters.
“The NSA is often appointed by the president and serves for not more than four years unless he is reappointed,” said Salihu Bakhari, a retired Nigerian Army officer.
“The office is political. The president has the prerogative to retain whoever is there but I think he has to announce the reappointment. I am not sure if Buhari has done that in respect of General Monguno,” he said.
Ibrahim Magu was appointed as Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on November 9, 2015, after his predecessor, Ibrahim Lamurde who served twice was sacked by President Buhari.
Section 2(3) of the EFCC Establishment Act of 2014 provides that, “The Chairman and members of the commission other than ex-officio members shall be appointed by the president and the appointment shall be subject to the confirmation of the Senate.”
It further provides that the chairman and members of the commission other than ex-officio members shall hold office for a period of four years and may be re-appointed for a further term of four years and no more.
Magu, who was appointed on November 9, 2015, has remained in office in acting capacity till date. Attempts were made by the Presidency to get him confirmed twice but he was rejected on both occasions by the 8th Senate as a result of petitions written against him by the Department of State Services (DSS) and other political scheming.
Senate Ahmad Lawan had in November said there was no request before the 9th Senate for the confirmation of Magu as EFCC chairman.
Lawan made this known when Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay, paid him a visit to the National Assembly complex, Abuja. However, on Wednesday last week, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja, dismissed a suit challenging the stay of Magu as acting chairman of the EFCC.
Justice Ojukwu held that the EFCC Act, especially Section 2(3) did not restrict the powers of the president to retain Magu as acting EFCC chairman.
She said the gap in the law literally handed President Muhammadu Buhari, the “proverbial yam and the knife to do as he pleases, being that there is no specific time stipulated for acting capacity.”
“Order 1(2)1 of the Senate Rule applies only to ministerial appointees and cannot be enforced on the position of the acting chairman of the EFCC,” the judge averred.
Buhari on July 13, 2015, appointed his defence and service chiefs for a statutory two years.
Those appointed included: Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Gabriel Olonisakin; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar; and Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Yusuf Buratai.
Based on the Armed Forces Terms and Conditions of Service, the tenure of the defence and service chiefs expired on July 13, 2017.
However, President Buhari at the time approved the extension of the tenure till December 2017.
And on Monday, December 18, 2017, the then defence minister in a statement stated that the president extended the tenure of the defence and service chiefs after “having carefully reviewed the on-going military operations across the country.”
The minister, however, did not specify the duration of the new extension of tenure.
Section 09 Sub-section 08 of the Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service for Officers of the Armed Force of Nigeria (2012) states that: ‘An officer appointed to the substantive appointment of the Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army, Chief of Naval Staff and Chief of the Air Staff will hold the appointment for a continuous period of two years. The appointment could be extended for another period of two years from the date of the expiration of the initial two-year period.
General Olonisakin, a member of the Combatant Regular Course 25, is believed to have spent over 40 years in service as against the statutory 35 years, having enlisted in the Nigerian Defence Academy for cadet training on January 3, 1979. Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, a member of Course 26, has also spent 40 years in service, having joined the Navy in 1979.
Air Marshal Abubakar, a member of Course Cadet Military Training Course (CMTC 5) joined the Air Force in November 1979. He has also spent over 40 years in service.
Lt. General Buratai, a member of the Course 29, has spent over 39 years in service.