Fiery human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has warned that theMinister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, and Abubakar Malami, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, cannot return to their positions after “resigning” without being reappointed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Falana, who took this position in a statement, shortly after the duo indicated that they would stick to their positions after President Muhammadu Buhari, ordered them to resign during last Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, said it was illegal for them to do so.
Ngige, on Friday, after meeting with the President, said he was no longer leaving the government as he had decided to abandon his presidential ambition, which he declared to contest on April 19, the basis upon which the presidential order to all those interested in contesting elections in 2023 to quit their positions.
The former governor of Anambra State, had explained that his decision not to quit came out of consultation with his constituency, which made him decide to remain and help the President in his task of administering the country.
He said: “As a result of this, I will NOT be participating in any of the internal party processes of the said election, starting with the primary. I took this momentous decision firstly in the overall interest of the nation, in order to enable me concentrate on my job, and assist the President and the Government, weather the difficult last lap, in the life of the administration and secondly for other family reasons.
“My constituents, political associates and well-wishers across the country are by this statement informed of this latest decision, which also has the blessing and support of the overwhelming majority, hence supersedes any other interest, personal or otherwise.”
But Falana, who cried foul, citing section 306 (2) of the Constitution, said: “At the last Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, May 11, 2022, President Muhammadu Buhari directed all ministers and other political appointees who aspire to contest for elective offices in the 2023 General Elections to resign their appointments.
“In compliance with the directive, nine Ministers resigned their appointments. The former ministers are Rotimi Amaechi, Godswill Akpabio, Ogbonnaya Onu, Timipre Sylva, Chris Ngige, Abubakar Malami (SAN), Uche Ogah, Pauline Tallen and Chief Tayo Alasoadura. In a farewell meeting held with the former ministers on Friday, May 13, 2022, President Buhari thanked them for serving the nation sacrificially, ‘with dignity and honour’.
“While wishing them success in the upcoming elections and in future endeavours the President commended them for their decision and courage to contest for elective offices and their compliance with his directive. Having resigned from the Buhari administration Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN and Dr. Chris Ngige were reported to have withdrawn their letters of resignation after the farewell meeting.
“Since the resignation of the former Ministers has taken effect, they cannot return to the cabinet either on their own volition or on the directive of the President. The resignation of the Ministers is not a cabinet reshuffle. It is akin to the removal of the former Ministers by the President.
“Therefore, if the former Ministers are going to be reappointed the President is required by section 147 of the Constitution to submit names to the Senate for fresh screening and confirmation.”