Human Rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has told the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, that she lacks the power to suspend the Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, over allegations of fraud.
Falana spoke amid allegations Idris was under probe for N80 billion fraud by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
He said it was only President Muhammadu Buhari that has such powers to suspend the AGF.
He said: “In exercise of his powers under section 171 of the Constitution, President Buhari appointed Ahmed Idris as the Accountant-General of the Federation on June 25, 2015. Upon the expiration of 4-year tenure, Mr 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 functions, 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 Mr 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 Mr Idris from duty since 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 Mr 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.”