BY TIMOTHY AGBOR, OSOGBO
A human rights lawyer, Adedayo Aborisade, has sued the Minister of State, for Science, Technology and Innovation, Henry Ikechukwu Ikoh, for allegedly nullifying the recruitment process of a substantive Director-General of the National Centre for Technology Management.
Ikoh was dragged before a Federal High Court sitting in Osogbo, capital of Osun State, while the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and NACETEM were joined as other defendants.
The plaintiff, in a motion ex parte brought before the court by his counsel, Olamiji Martins, on Wednesday, argued that Ikoh flagrantly disobeyed the law by jettisoning the recruitment process of the NACETEM DG which was kick-started by his predecessor, Ogbonnaya Onu and setting up a new committee for recruitment into same office.
According to the public interest lawyer, government is continuum and Ikoh ought to have allowed the committee which had already advertised the DG position and started receiving applications from interested candidates to finish his duty without nullifying their process.
Meanwhile, when the matter was mentioned in court, the presiding judge, Justice N. Ayo- Emmanuel, ordered that Ikoh and other defendants whose offices are in Abuja be served court notices and for them to show course and explain to the court why it should not grant the reliefs sought by the plaintiff.
Ayo-Emmanuel adjourned the matter till March 29 for hearing of the interim interlocutory injunction for the stoppage of the Minister’s efforts at nullifying the standing recruitment committee.
Briefing journalists after the court session, the plaintiff’s counsel, Martins, explained that, “the matter is public interest litigation. There was a vacancy in NACETEM and that’s the Director General position and this vacancy had been since when Ogbonnaya Onu was still the Minister of Science and Technology. The process to appointing a new Director General had already been kick-started, that even the Minister nominated a representative on the board of NACETEM because it is the NACETEM Governing Board, according to law, that has the power to appoint NACETEM official workers, while the Minister is just to supervise when the Governing Board has concluded its recruiting exercises.
“The contention is whether the Minister of State for Science, Technology and Innovation has the power to nullify or set aside the procedures that were started by his predecessor. The committee had already placed an advertisement on the ministry’s notice board and some other agencies on the authority of the minister and people were already applying for it, only for the new Minister of State who was appointed in July last year to write the board of NACETEM that the process has to be started all over again.
“The law is trite that the government is continuum. It’s not for a minister to come and rubbish whatever the previous Minister already did, it’s for you to continue from where he stopped. If the person doesn’t have a hidden agenda, I don’t know why interested candidates should be recalled, the Minister already has his representatives on the Governing Board to monitor anything that has to do with the recruitment exercise. The minister has an eye on the recruitment committee and advertisement has been placed to that effect, and interested candidates have already been applying, only for the new Minister, by a letter he wrote in January 2023, to rubbish what has been done by the previous administration.
“That is why we approached the court to say whether a government is not a continuum, whether the act done by the former Minister, Ogbonnaya Onu as regards the replacement, appointment and recruitment of the substantive Director General for NACETEM can be jettisoned or nullified by a succeeding Minister, Minister of State for that matter. It’s a slap on the face of the law and flagrant disobedience of the constitution. The minister has come to make a mockery of the law and the court should stop him,” he said.