The Federal High Court in Abuja has ruled that President Muhammadu Buhari cannot be the Minister of Petroleum Resources.
A statement from the office of Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, former President of the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, on Friday said the court made the declaration while giving judgment in a suit brought by him last year, challenging the legality of Buhari occupying that position.
The court in judgment however 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.
In the suit filed by Agbakoba, he had, prayed the court to restrain Buhari from continuing to hold the office of the Minister of Petroleum Resources contending that Section 138 of the 1999 Constitution forbids the President from “holding any other executive office or paid employment.”
The statement said the court held 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 and 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.”
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“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.
Agbakoba had in the suit urged the court to sack Buhari contending that “Buhari cannot legally hold the office of the Minister of Petroleum Resources.”
He had urged the court to determine “whether, by virtue of Section 147(2) of the 1999 Constitution, the President can hold the office of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, without confirmation by the Senate of the National Assembly?”
In a 14-paragraph affidavit to in support of his suit, Agbakoba said the lawsuit arose as a result of the management crisis engulfed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, following disagreements between the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, and the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, which he said could not have occurred if the President is not also the Minister of Petroleum Resources.