Kogi Ministerial Slot: Non-replacement of Ocholi, Buhari Erred in Law – Court

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Justice Phoebe Ayua of a Federal High Court sitting in Lokoja, has held that, the non appointment of another Minister from Kogi state, after the demise of James Ocholi SAN, former minister of state for labour, President Muhammadu Buhari breached provisions of Section 147 (1)(2)(3) and Section 14(3) of the 1999 constitution.
The court held that such breach of the constitution is tantamount to a deliberate failure, neglect or refusal on the part of the President to carry out the mandatory responsibility to obey the constitution and point a minister for Kogi state, to represent the people of the state in governance issues, for the welfare of the people.
Justice Ayua while delivering ruling in a matter brought before her by Daniel Makolo against the President, Senate President of the National Assembly and the Attorney General of the Federation, noted that, such contraventions is capable of engendering the feeling of marginalisation and oppression in the people of Kogi state and indeed, Nigerians towards the government of the federation.
“To my mind, the applicant has sufficiently, by Exhibit DM2 and DM3, demanded of the respondents the performance of two public duties, viz, appointment of an indigene of Kogi state as a minister from Kogi state and the conduct of a coroner’s inquest into the circumstances and cause of the death of the former Minister from Kogi state, James Enojo SAN, his son and wife”, she held.
The application was brought pursuant to Order 34 Rules 1-4 and 6 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) rules, seeking for an order of court that the refusal, neglect and failure by the President to appoint any qualified indigene of Kogi state into the office of the Minister of the government of the Federation, since the demise of Ocholi on March 6, 2016, is wrongful, unlawful and unconstitutional in that it is an attempt to and have denied the people of Kogi state of a representation, at the statutory mandatory regular meetings held by the President, his Vice and Ministers.
This was premised on the grounds that, since the demise of Ocholi through a fatal motor accident, Kogi state does not have a Minister, therefore not represented  in the regular constitutionally mandatory meetings been held to advise, coordinate and determine the activities and the general direction of the President, the country for the purpose of promoting the good government and welfare of all persons in the country.
However, the trial court held that : “From the statement containing the reliefs sought, the grounds of this application, it seems to me that the applicant instituted this action for judicial review by way of mandamus to fight for the interest of the people of Kogi state in particular, of which he is a member, and Nigeria at large.
“The applicant has not, however, shown how the refusal, neglect or failure of the respondents to appoint a minister from Kogi state, of Kogi state origin to replace the late minister from Kogi state has directly affected his civil rights and obligations or special interests as an individual, over and above the interest or civil rights of the other people in Kogi state or Nigeria”.
In an interim report released by the Corp Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Ocholi died with his wife and son after the car they were travelling suffered a bursted tyre at Kilometre 67 Kaduna-Abuja road, after Doka village near Kaduna, since, his post as Minister of state for Labour had remained vacant while Kogi state remained without a representation in the federal cabinet.

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