A lawyer, Kabir Akingbolu Esq has written to the immediate past Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo (SAN), to refund with immediate effect illegal and unconstitutional salaries and allowances he collected during the four years that he was minister of state.
Akingbolu in the letter to Keyamo with Ref No SAC/LEG/VOL.02/77/23, dated May 29, 2023, warned that should he refuse to comply with the “innocuous demand,” he would have no choice but to approach the court to compel the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to prosecute him for fraudulently enriching himself with Nigerian taxpayers’ money.
The lawyer also said he would ask the court to compel the government to expunge his name from its record as a former minister.
SaharaReporters had reported that Keyamo described the designation of “Minister of State” as a constitutional aberration, saying that it is practically not working for those appointed into the position.
Keyamo who spoke at the valedictory session presided over by President Muhammad Buhari to mark the end of the Federal Executive Council meeting, under his administration on May 24, 2023 said, “Mr. President, the concept or designation of “Minister of State” is a constitutional aberration and is practically not working for many so appointed.
“Successive governments have come and gone and many who were appointed as Ministers of State have not spoken out at a forum such as this because of the risk of sounding ungrateful to the Presidents who appointed them. However, like I said earlier, this is not ingratitude.”
He further stated: “Mr. President, I crave your indulgence to explain this constitutional conundrum of “Minister of State”. Sections 147 and 148 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), deal with the appointments and responsibilities of Ministers of the Federation. The said sections state as follows:
“Section 147 “(1) There shall be such offices of Ministers of the Government of the Federation as may be established by the President.
“(2) Any appointment to the office of Minister of the Government of the Federation shall, if the nomination of any person to such office is confirmed by the Senate, be made by the President.
“(3) Any appointment under subsection (2) of this section by the President shall be in conformity with the provisions of section 14(3) of this Constitution:- provided that in giving effect to the provisions aforesaid the President shall appoint at least one Minister from each State, who shall be an indigene of such State.”
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria further quoted Section 148 which provided, “(1) The President may, in his discretion, assign to the Vice-President or any Minister of the Government of the Federation responsibility for any business of the Government of the Federation, including the administration of any department of government.”
However, Mr Akingbolu in the letter to Keyamo titled: “Demand for the immediate refund of illegal and unconstitutional salaries and allowances collected by you during the four years in the office as the State Minister for Labour and Employment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from August 2019 to 29th May, 2023,” commended him for courage and honesty in telling truth to the power.
Describing his statement as “laudable and commendable by all Nigerians” he noted that “it is an act alien to Nigerian political class”.
He added, “We are not much surprised about this based on your antecedents as People’ Advocate who always stand by the Nigerian masses as a crusader for democracy and constitutionalism for the evolvement of Nigerian young democracy that continued to be mal-administered by inept successive government due to lack of political will to right the wrongs in our political system.”
It added, “It is our strong believe that your recommendation was borne out of your usual characteristics and sincere contribution to the advancement of our constitutional democracy which has been the bane of our political and economic development for ages.
“Arising from the foregoing is the fact that, since you have deemed it fit to stand by the truth at this time, belatedly though, by exposing the unconstitutional acts of governments for the sake of advancing our constitutional democracy, so, it will be improper, hypocritical and out of character for you to withhold the products and proceeds of this office not recognise by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We, therefore, demand that you immediately refund all the illegal and unconstitutional salaries and allowances paid to you as an appointed Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs and later redeployed as Minister of State-for Labour and Employment for the past 4 years.
“Although, it is shocking and disappointing that as a social crusader and respected Senior Advocate of Nigeria, you could permit yourself to be used to occupy an illegal office and you continue to receive illegal money for a whole four (4) years.
“This is highly disappointing and leaves so much sad taste in the mouth that you can participate in such criminality. This has made some people like us to believe that you only said so in order to get a better patronage or appointment as a substantive minister in the new government. Too bad.”
“In any event of neglect or refusal to comply or give attention to this Innocuous demand, we shall be left with no other option than to file for Mandamus by approaching the court to compel the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to prosecute you for fraudulently enriching yourself with Nigerian tax payers’ money and in addition compel the Federal Government to expunge your name from government record as one of the former Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” he warned.