Alleged lopsided appointment: Lawyer asks FCT Minister to produce CTC of education qualifications of his appointees

An Abuja-based constitutional lawyer, Mr. Maxwel Opara, has written to the Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Mohammed Bello, to apply for the certified true copies (CTC) of the education qualifications of persons appointed as heads of the FCT Administration Mandate Secretariats.

Opara, a human right activist, said the application is in line with Section 1 of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2011.

He named the affected mandate secretaries to include Ibrahim Abubakar Dantsoho, Secretary, Area Council Services Secretariat; Abubakar Ibrahim, Secretary, Agricultural and Rural Development Secretariat; Sani Dahir El-katazu, Secretary, Education and Dr. Abubakar Tafida, Secretary, Health and Human Services Secretariat.

Others are Muhammad B. Umar, Secretary, Legal Services Secretariat; Hadiza Mahammed Kabir, Secretary, Social Development Secretariat; Zakari Angulu Doobi, Secretary, Transportation Secretariat and Agboola Lukman Dabiri, Secretary, Economic Planning, Revenue Generation and PPP.

It also includes Obinna Fancis Ogwuegbu, Coordinator, Satellite Towns Development Department; Umar Shuaibu, Coordinator, Abuja Metropolitan Management Council; Engr. Shehu Hadi Ahmed, Executive Secretary, FCDA; Ibrahim Damisa, MD, Abuja Broadcasting Corporation and Dr. Muhammed B. Kawu, General Manager, Hospital Management Board.
The letter, dated February 3rd, 2022, is titled: “Re: Application for the Certified True Copies (CTC) of the Curriculum Vitae And other Qualifications Document Submitted by the FCTA Mandate Secretaries Appointees.

The letter reads: “Sir, I am a legal practitioner and a human right activist enjoined to uphold the sanctity of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and other relevant laws of the land.

Sir, you recall that sometime in 2021 as a Minister of FCT, you appointed the FCTA Mandate Secretaries.
“You recall also that I personally challenged that lopsided appointment on the main ground of your non-compliance with the provisions guiding principles of the Federal Character Commission (Establishment Act) in the appointment of permanent secretaries, executive secretaries, heads, personal aides, director and other staffers into the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA).

“May you recall that in opposition to my deposition in the originating summons, you authorised one Mr Saidu Wodi, the Legal Assistant in the Litigation Registry of Legal Services Secretariat of the FCTA to file a counter affidavit on your behalf and denied that your appointment was not lopsided and never dominated by Muslim persons from the northern part of Nigeria.

“Sir, in other to resolve the issue properly, we hereby demand that you disclose publicly the Curriculum Vitae and all the documents of all the FCTA Mandate Secretaries Appointees submitted to your office which you used to screen and qualify them for the job.

“This is because having received all those documents as a public officer, those are public document.

“May I respectfully inform you that my application is in line with Section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, which empowers to access the record having been captured under the definition of a PUBLIC RECORD as contained in Section 30(3) of the FOI Act 2011.

“And as such, the public documents (curriculum vitae and qualifications) submitted to you for the use of your public office in your occupation and position as public officer are herewith within purview of our application.

“Finally sir, in the event you refuse our application and failed to accede to our harmless application, we shall have no option than to apply to relevant authorities to compel you to release the public records under your custody as a public officer.

It would be recalled that Opara had, last year, sued the minister, the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Federal Character Commission and the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria over alleged violation of Federal Character Act in recent appointments in FCTA.

The plaintiff, in the suit he filed before Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court, Abuja, alleged that contrary to constitutional provisions, persons recently appointed as permanent secretaries, executive secretaries, personal aides and directors in FCTA, were all from the northern region of the country.

Opara, in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1523/2021, sought an order of the court, directing the FCT Minister and other defendants, to comply with the provisions of Sections 4(1)(a)(b) and 5 of the Federal Character (Establishment) Act in all appointments in all cadres of posts in FCTA, among others.

He prayed the court to declare that the 1st to 3rd defendants are under obligation to comply with the provisions of Part 1, Section 1 to 9 and Part III, Section 4 and 5 of the guiding principle and formulae for distribution of all cadre of posts and in appointments into all cadre of posts into the Federal Capital Administration.

“A declaration that the recent appointment on 23rd of November, 2021 of Perm-Secs, Executive Secretaries and other staffers of FCTA by 1st to 3rd defendants clearly offends Sections 4(1)(a)(b) and 5 of the Federal Character Commission (Establishment, etc) and provisions of Part 1, Sections 1 to 9 and Part III, Section 4 and 5 of the guiding principle and formulae for distribution of all cadre of posts made pursuant to Section 4(1)(a) of the Federal Character Commission (Establishment, Etc) Act and accordingly the said appointments are void.”

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