The Supreme Court has warned President Muhammadu Buhari to desist from the act of using public office to defend private litigation.
A five-man panel of justices led by Justice Mary Odili gave the caution on Monday while presiding on a suit seeking the disqualification of the President from the 2019 presidential election over an alleged act of perjury.
The court frowned at the appearance of a Principal State Counsel from the Federal Ministry of Justice, Abdullahi Abubakar, for president Buhari in personal litigation.
It held that the action of the lawyer contravenes the Provisions of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers.
The panel cited the case of former American president Bill Clinton, who throughout his tenure, never engage in using public funds to run personal litigation.
It added that the same must be applicable to Nigeria since the country is copying the American system of government.
“Clinton, in his numerous private litigations, never used government organs but rather personally sponsored all his private cases,” Odili said in her judgment.
She added, “The court notes the inappropriate appearance of Mr Abdullahi Abubakar, state counsel from the Federal Ministry of Justice, representing the first respondent General Muhammad Buhari (rtd) in his personal capacity. This practice must be discouraged.”
Meanwhile, the court has struck out the suit seeking the disqualification of the President shortly after it was withdrawn by the appellant’s counsel, Ukpai Ukairo.
The withdrawal followed hints from the apex court that it was pointless going ahead with the matter having been cut up by the Fourth Alteration to the 1999 Constitution.
“Appeal haven been withdrawn is hereby dismissed,” Odili said.
The appellants, a legal practitioner, Kalu Kalu, and two others – Labaran Ismail and Hassy El-Kuris – had approached the court to set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal which earlier dismissed the suit on grounds of being statute-barred.