Lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, says President Buhari is constitutionally empowered to confer national honours on deserving Nigerians, dead or alive.
Falana said this while reacting to the statement made by former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Alfa Belgore, who has described as an illegality the conferment of Nigeria’s highest national honour, GCFR. on the presumed winner of the June 12th 1993 presidential election, MKO Abiola.
Falana, however, said the ex-CJN did not refer to any section of the National Honours Act or any other law that has been violated by the president.
“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.”
Falana also reacted to claims that the June 12th public holdiay declared by President Buhari is illegal since he did not seek approval from the National Assembly. Falana in his submission, said the constitution empowers president Buhari to pick a special day to be kept as a public holiday without any approval from the National Assembly.
“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” he said