The Federal High Court in Abuja has ruled that President Muhammadu Buhari cannot legally double as the Minister of Petroleum Resources.
The ruling followed a suit filed last year by a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN).
Agbakoba had, in the suit, urged the court to restrain Buhari from continuing to hold the office of the Minister of Petroleum Resources.
The former NBA president had contended that Section 138 of the 1999 Constitution forbids the President from “holding any other executive office or paid employment.”
In a statement on Friday by his office, Agbakoba said the court in deciding the case held that Buhari had not violated Section 138, since he is not directly in charge of the day-to-day running of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Punch writes.
The court, according to the statement, said there would have been a violation if Buhari had not appointed someone else – Dr. Ibe Kachikwu – to oversee the day-to-day running of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
According to Agbakoba, the court explained that the phrase “hold” in Section 138 of the constitution “meant to preside, act, to possess, occupy or conduct the actual day to day running of the office.”
“Merely proclaiming/announcing that he (the President) was the Minister of Petroleum is not enough to conclude that he holds the office of minister,” the court reportedly declared.
In the suit, Agbakoba had said he was convinced that “Buhari cannot legally hold the office of the Minister of Petroleum Resources” as he was not screened for the ministerial job by the Senate pursuant to the dictates of the constitution.
In a 14-paragraph affidavit, which he personally deposed to in support of his suit, Agbakoba explained that the lawsuit was informed by the recent management crisis which engulfed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, on account of disagreements between the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, and the Group Managing Director of the NNPC.