A Lagos-based advocacy group, the Law and Good Governance Group, has pleaded with the national and states’ Houses of Assembly to be wary of spurious petitions against certain ministerial and commissioner-nominees.
The group on Friday, said it was particularly concerned about certain petitions that were purportedly written in respect of certain retired civil servants being considered for cabinet positions in Lagos State.
LGGG said the lawmakers must be vigilant and be seen to be guided by the constitution so as not to allow the hallowed chambers to be used to frustrate either the president or any state governor in the choice of their cabinet members.
The Executive Director, LGGG, Dr. Festus Odunlami, reminded the lawmakers that the provisions of the law should be their guiding principles “in determining the effect of a private petition on the eligibility of a nominee for the office of either a minister or commissioner”.
Odunlami argued that the constitution has provisions to deal with the qualification and disqualification of nominees in the country.
Citing one of the provisions for disqualification, Odunlami said a nominee could be disqualified if he “is under a sentence of death imposed on him by a competent court of law or tribunal in Nigeria or a sentence of imprisonment or fine for an offence involving dishonesty by fraud (by whatever name called) or any other offences imposed on him by such court or tribunal substituted by a competent authority for any other sentence imposed on him by such a court or tribunal”.
Also, he said a nominee could only be disqualified if “he has been indicted for embezzlement of fraud by a judicial commission of inquiry or Administrative Panel of Inquiry or an or a tribunal set up under the tribunal of Inquiry Act, a tribunal of Inquiry law or any other law by the Federal and State Government which indictment has been accepted by the Federal or State Government, respectively”.
LGGG further said that although the 1999 constitution envisaged a situation where a nominee could be disqualified, it was evident that the Constitution “is very clear in stating that a person can only be disqualified if he has been indicted or convicted by any of the following: a court, a tribunal, a judicial commission of inquiry, an administrative panel of inquiry set up by Law or the Code of Conduct Tribunal”.
The statement added, “We wish to state, therefore, that the framers of these constitutional provisions placed these strict conditions to prevent third parties from placing non-judicial decisions of questionable validity as hurdles to the election of a nominee.
“They (the lawmakers) should not be seen to be departing from the same constitution that created the laws”.