ICT Africa Headline Press Release

Ex Communication Commission of Nigeria Boss Case - President Jonathan Pre-Empts Court, Sends Gwandu's Replacement to Senate for Confirmation

Leadership - ICT Africa News

Another twist to the ongoing litigation between Dr Bashir Gwandu, the former executive commissioner of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and President Goodluck Jonathan has now emerged.

In what appears to be a move to pre-empt the judgement of the National Industrial Court, which is scheduled to be delivered on November 29, 2013, the president has forwarded another name as a replacement for Engr. Gwandu, for Senate confirmation.

In a letter to the Senate, which was read on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday October 22, 2013, the president wrote: "In compliance with the provision of Section 8(1) of the Nigerian Communications Commission Act, I write to forward to you the nomination of Engineer Ubale Ahmed Shehu Maska, whose Curriculum Vitae is attached, for your kind consideration and confirmation as Executive Commissioner in the Nigerian Communications Commission. I am confident that this exercise will receive the usual expeditious consideration of the Distinguished Members of the Senate".

The move by the president has, however, raised concerns about why a federal government that has waited 11 months to find a replacement cannot wait some weeks for the court to decide in the matter.

Mr Deji Morakinyo of Falana & Falana Chambers, lawyers to Dr Bashir Gwandu, has also written to the Senate president and Senate Committee on Communications, drawing the attention of the Senate to the ongoing litigation. In a letter dated October 25, 2013, Mr Morakinyo said: "Our Client was irregularly removed on the 26th of November 2012 as an Executive Commissioner in the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

"Our attention has been drawn to a communication received by the Senate early this week from His Excellency President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, in respect of the nomination of a candidate for clearance as Executive Commissioner in the NCC (to replace our Client as a Commissioner in the NCC), in line with Provisions of Section 8 of the Nigerian Communication Act 2003.

"In view of the fact that our client, Dr Bashir Gwandu has challenged his purported removal as an Executive Commissioner in the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in Suit No: NICN/ ABJ/ 23/ 2013 pending before the National Industrial Court, Abuja, wherein judgement is to be delivered on the 29th of November 2013, we wish to submit, without any fear of contradiction, that the aforesaid communication from the President of the Federal Republic is prejudicial and contemptuous."

In the case of the Military Governor of Lagos State v. Ojukwu (2001) 39 WRN, page 155 at 173, the Supreme Court of Nigeria held inter alia: In the area where rule of law operates, the rule of self-help by force is abandoned. Nigeria being one of the countries in the world, even in the third world, which proffers loudly to follow the rule of law, gives no room for the rule of self-help by force to operate.

Once a dispute has arisen between a person and the government or authority and the dispute has been brought before the court, thereby invoking the judicial powers of the state, it is the duty of the government to allow the law to take its course or allow the legal and judicial process to run its full course".

Mr Morakinyo further drew the attention of the Senate to a petition on the same matter that was presented on the floor of the Senate in December 2012, on which the Senate has not completed its work.

LEADERSHIP learnt that the petition was put on hold, on the ground that the matter was later filed before a court of law. The argument of the lawyers of Dr Gwandu is that the same principle the Senate applied in suspending action on the petition also applies in respect of confirmation of a replacement candidate. The lawyers went on to urge the Senate to put on hold all processes of confirmation of another candidate until the pending suit in court is finally determined.

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