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You lack power to suspend Idris as AGF – Falana tells Finance minister

Human Rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) has berated the Finance minister for suspending Ahmed Idris, former Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), over allegations of misappropriation of funds to the tune of N80 billion.

Idris was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, after he allegedly ignored several invitations by the anti-corruption agency.

Falana noted that Section 320 of the constitution and Section 11 of the interpretation ACT empowered only the President to sack Idris as the Accountant General of the Federation.

He said: “In exercise of his power under Section 171 of the Constitution, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Ahmed Idris as the Accountant-General of the Federation on June 25, 2015. Upon the expiration of four-year tenure, Idris was reappointed as the Accountant-General of the Federation by the President on June 19, 2019.

“It is submitted that by the combined effect of Section 320 of the Constitution and Section 11 of the Interpretation Act, it is the exclusive constitutional responsibility of President Buhari to suspend Mr. Idris as the Accountant-General of the Federation.

“Specifically, Section 11(1) (b) of the Interpretation Act provides that ‘Where an enactment confers a power to appoint a person either to an office or to exercise any function, whether for a specified period or not, the power includes the power to remove or suspend him.

“From the foregoing, it is undoubtedly clear that it is only the President who appointed Idris as the Accountant-General of the Federation and reappointed him to the office that is constitutionally empowered to suspend him or interdict him, pending his investigation and prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

“I believe that the Minister of Finance knows or ought to know that she lacks the power to suspend Idris from duty since she did not appoint or reappoint him as the Accountant-General of the Federation.

“It is hoped that the Federal Government has not deliberately played into the hands of Mr. Idris to provide a legal escape route for him, as he may soon challenge his suspension in the National Industrial Court. Since the action of the minister is illegal and unconstitutional, Idris will win the case and an order will be made for his reinstatement.

“We are, therefore, compelled to call on President Buhari to suspend Mr. Idris as the Accountant-General of the Federation until further notice under Section 11(1)(b) of the Interpretation Act. In the same vein, the President should appoint the Acting Accountant-General of the Federation in line with the law, since the Finance minister lacks the vires to make the appointment.”

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