A senior lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana yesterday described as “illegal and unconstitutional” the withdrawal the resignation letter by the minister of labour and employment, Dr Chris Ngige.
Ngige, who had, on April 12, 2022 announced his presidential ambition, pulled out of the race via a letter issued yesterday (Friday) and entitled “Withdrawal of my presidential aspiration.”
The minister who vied for the office of the president on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) said he had informed his family, constituents, supporters, well-wishers and President Muhammadu Buhari about the “withdrawal of my interest and earlier decision to contest the office of the president in the 2023 general elections.”
He wrote: “On Tuesday, 19th April 2022, I publicly declared my interest to contest for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, following the constitutional provision that precludes our amiable incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari from seeking re-election to the office, as he would have completed his two terms in office by 29thMay 2023 . The declaration was made in my home town, Alor, Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State.
“My declaration was sequel to pressure on me from my constituents, political associates, friends and other well-meaning Nigerians, who felt I possess the necessary qualifications and experience for the job. Some of these supporters even taxed themselves to procure the Expression of Interest/ Nomination Forms of our Party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) for me. The forms however are yet to be filled and submitted.
“Today, 13thMay , 2022, I had an audience with the President, Muhammadu Buhari as a follow up to the one I earlier had with him on 11thMay , 2022.
“Having also consulted widely with my family, constituents, supporters and well-wishers, it is my pleasure to announce the withdrawal of my interest and earlier decision to contest the office of the President in the 2023 general elections.
“As a result of this, I will NOT be participating in any of the internal party processes of the said election, starting with the primary.
“I took this momentous decision firstly in the overall interest of the nation, in order to enable me concentrate on my job, and assist the President and the Government, weather the difficult last lap, in the life of the administration and secondly for other family reasons.
“I have since communicated this decision to the President and the secretary to the government of the federation.
“My constituents, political associates and well-wishers across the country are by this statement informed of this latest decision, which also has the blessing and support of the overwhelming majority, hence supersedes any other interest, personal or otherwise.
“Thanks and God’s blessings.”
However, Falana reacted in a statement entitled ‘Withdrawal of resignation letters by former ministers is illegal’ that such withdrawal by Ngige and the attorney general of the federation and minister of justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, constitutes a gross contravention of section 306 (2) of the Constitution.
“Having resigned from the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, and Dr. Chris Ngige were reported to have withdrawn their letters of resignation after the farewell meeting.
“Such withdrawal is illegal as it constitutes a gross contravention of section 306 (2) of the Constitution which stipulates that ‘The resignation of any person from any office established by this Constitution shall take effect when the writing signifying the resignation is received by the authority or person to whom it is addressed or by any person authorised by that authority or person to receive it.’
“Since the resignation of the former ministers has taken effect, they cannot return to the cabinet either on their own volition or on the directive of the president. The resignation of the ministers is not a cabinet reshuffle. it is akin to the removal of the former ministers by the president.
“Therefore, if the former ministers are going to be reappointed, the President is required by section 147 of the Constitution to submit names to the senate for fresh screening and confirmation,” he said.