A frontline Islamic organisation, The Companion, a group of Muslim men in business and the profession, has written the Lagos state house of Assembly over the state governor’s commissioner nominees list which it described as failing constitutional provisions of recognising the diversity of people of the state.
Part of the letter read: “It is our position that having 8 Muslims as Commissioners in Lagos State fails the constitutional prescription of recognising the diversity of the good people of Lagos State. It also does not promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among Muslims of Lagos State.”
Read the full letter below:
10 August 2023
Rt. Hon. [Dr.] Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa
Lagos State House of Assembly
Composition of Lagos State Executive Council: The Imperative
of Constitutional Compliance
We are Solicitors to The Companion, a frontline association of Muslim men in business and the professions, at which behest we have been requested to write to the Lagos State House of Assembly in respect of the above subject.
Our Client was established in 1984 in Lagos State and since inception, has been focused on propagation and enlightenment, education, economic empowerment, political empowerment and community engagement.
It has been brought to our Client’s attention that the Governor of Lagos State, His Excellency, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has forwarded a list of nominees for consideration for appointment as Commissioners and Special Advisers in the State to the House of Assembly under your distinguished leadership.
It is the understanding of our Client that out of the 39 names presented by the Governor, only 8 are Muslims. Our Client is of the view that a cabinet of 39 with only 8 Muslims, which is less than 21%, is not only discriminatory against Muslim voters and citizens in Lagos State, it is also unconstitutional. The proposed nomination, which is heavily weighted against the interests of Muslims in Lagos State, is contrary to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) (hereafter referred to as “the Constitution) which expressly, by its section 42, guarantees the right of every Nigerian citizen to freedom from discrimination on ground of religion, amongst others.
Mr. Speaker Sir, may we respectfully draw Your Excellency’s attention to the provision of section 14(4) of the Constitution which is categorical and unequivocal about the composition of a cabinet or any agency of a State Government. The section provides that:
(4) The composition of the Government of a State, a local government council, or any of the agencies of such Government or council, and the conduct of the affairs of the Government or council or such agencies shall be carried out in such manner as to recognise the diversity of the people within its area of authority and the need to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all the peoples of the Federation.”
It is our position that having 8 Muslims as Commissioners in Lagos State fails the constitutional prescription of recognising the diversity of the good people of Lagos State. It also does not promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among Muslims of Lagos State.
Our Client’s position is further cemented by the provision of section 192(2) of the Constitution which provides that:
“(2) Any appointment to the office of Commissioner of the Government of a State shall, if the nomination of any person to such office is confirmed by the House of Assembly of the State, be made by the Governor of that State and in making any such appointment the Governor shall conform with the provisions of section 14(4) of this Constitution.”
Mr. Speaker Sir, as a distinguished lawmaker, who has earned his stripes in parliamentary leadership, and as a member of the Nigerian Bar, your Excellency is aware that the provision of section 192(2) is mandatory and it must be complied it. This provision empowers the distinguished House of Assembly you are privileged to lead to ensure that the act of the Governor, in this regard, conforms to the provisions of section 14(4) of the Constitution which we have taken the liberty to reproduce above.
Mr. Speaker, you will recall that on 29 May 2023, His Excellency, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu took the Oath of Office as the Governor of Lagos State as contained in the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the effect, amongst others, that he “will strive to preserve the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy contained in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
It is, therefore, our Client’s position that the Lagos State House of Assembly should, as a matter of constitutional imperative, good conscience, fairness and equity, advise His Excellency, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to comply with the provisions of section 14(4), section 42, section 192(2) and the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.
Our Client is confident that the Lagos State House of Assembly, with its avowed commitment to be the leading light and pathfinder for Nigerian legislatures, will ensure that the Constitution is observed in its entirety.
While our Client reserves its rights as guaranteed under the Constitution, please accept the assurances of our Client’s highest regards.
Kunle Adegoke & Co.
Kunle Adegoke, SAN