Human rights lawyer Femi Falana says President Muhammadu Buhari has not violated any law by choosing to posthumously award the GCFR honour to the late Moshood Abiola, acclaimed winner of the June 12 ’93 election.
Alfa Belgore, Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) between 2006 and 2007, had described Buhari’s decision as illegal, saying the national honours could not be awarded posthumously “much less the GCFR”, which is the highest of them all.
“It is not done… it is for people living,” said Belgore, who was Chairman of the 2016 National Honours Committee. “The only thing they could do is to name a place after him, but national honours award, no.”
However, reacting on Thursday evening, Falana noted that the National Honours Act did not prohibit or restrict the powers of the President to confer national honours on deserving Nigerian citizens, dead or alive.
“The Honourable Justice Alfa Belgore, a retired Chief Justice of Nigeria, was reported to have questioned the legality of the decision of President Buhari to confer posthumous awards on Chief M. K. O. Abiola and Chief Gani Fawehinmi SAN,” he said.
“Curiously, his lordship did not refer to any section of the National Honours Act or any other law that has been violated by the President. In like manner, some persons have alleged that the June 12 holiday declared by the President is illegal on the grounds that the approval of the National Assembly was not sought and obtained.
“With profound respect to the Honourable Justice Alfa Belgore, the National Honours Act has not prohibited or restricted the powers of the President to confer national honours on deserving Nigerian citizens, dead or alive. No doubt, Paragraph 2 of the Honours Warrant made pursuant to the National Honours Act provides that ‘a person shall be appointed to a particular rank of an Order when he receives from the President in person, at an investiture held for the purpose…’ But Paragraph 3 thereof has given the President the unqualified discretion ‘to dispense with the requirement of paragraph 2 in such manner as may be specified in the direction.’ Therefore, since the national awards conferred on Chief Abiola and Chief Fawehinmi cannot be received by them in person, the President may permit their family members to receive same on their behalf.
“Furthermore, Section 2 (1) of the Public Holidays Act stipulates that in addition to the holidays mentioned in the Schedule to the Act, the President may appoint a special day to be kept as a public holiday either throughout Nigeria or in any part thereof. It is crystal clear that the President is not required by law to seek and obtain the approval of the National Assembly before declaring a public holiday in the country.
“In view of the combined effect of the National Honours Act and the Public Holidays Act, the legal validity of the well-deserved awards and the historic holiday has not been impugned in any manner whatsoever.”
SOURCE :sahara reporters (news)