Rebukes President for using govt lawyer to defend his private case
The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the appeal seeking the disqualification of President Muhammadu Buhari’s candidacy in the February 23, 2019 presidential poll over alleged act of perjury.
The suit was filed by some legal practitioners, namely, Kalu Kalu, Labaran Ismail and Hassy El-Kuris.
When the matter came up for hearing on Monday, the presiding justice of a five -man panel of the apex court, Justice Mary Odili, noted that the appeal is statute barred.
She said that the suit which originated from the Federal High Court Abuja was filed outside the 14 days allowed by the constitution for pre – election matters.
Consequently, the appellants counsel, Ukpai Ukairo withdrew the appeal.
In her ruling, Justice Odili stated that “the appeal having been withdrawn is whereby dismissed.”
On the application by the appellants challenging the appearance of Abdullahi Abubakar, a senior state counsel with the Federal Ministry of Justice representing Buhari, who was sued in his private capacity, Justice Odili said that it was a breach of code of conduct.
The apex court warned him to desist from such acts of using public office to defend a private litigation.
A member of the panel, Justice Muhammad Dattijo, while addressing the counsel, cited President Bill Clinton’s numerous private cases while in office to buttress the point that incumbent presidents cannot use a public officer to defend his private case in court.
“Clinton in his numerous private litigations, he never used government organs, but rather personally sponsored all his private cases,” Justice Dattijo averred.
He warned that his actions contravene the Code of Conduct for Public Servants which have consequences.
Odili in her judgment said ‘the court notes the inappropriate appearance of Abdullahi Abubakar, state counsel from the Federal Ministry of Justice, representing the first respondent Buhari in his personal capacity.
“This practice must be discouraged; appeal having been withdrawn is hereby dismissed,” Odili said.