The Supreme Court on Monday criticised President Muhammadu Buhari for using a senior state counsel at the Ministry of Justice, Abdullahi Abubakar, for his private election-related trial.
The apex court made the observation while delivering a ruling in a suit accusing the president of lying on oath. Three appellants had filed the suit alleging that Mr Buhari lied on oath in a form he submitted to the electoral commission, INEC, for the 2019 election.
The Supreme Court dismissed the main suit against the president for being statute-barred.
The judgement by the five-member panel was read by Justice Mary Odili, but the main criticism of the president’s action was announced by Justice Musa Dattijo.
The judge while querying the counsel that represented the president asked if Mr Buhari was sued in his capacity as president or as a private citizen.
Mr Abubakar replied saying “Mr Buhari was sued as a private citizen.”
The judge told Mr Buhari’s lawyer that a former president of the United States, Bill Clinton, “sponsored his own litigation personally, without involving the Ministry of Justice.”
The court faulted the use of taxpayers money to work on private litigation.
The court described it as a contravention of the provisions of the Code of Conduct for public officers.
“It is inappropriate, the representation of Mr Buhari by the Senior State Counsel of the Ministry of Justice in his personal capacity and not as Nigerian President,” the judge said.