The legality or otherwise of the conferment of the Posthumous National Awards on Chief MKO Abiola and Chief Gani Fawehimi has dominated the legal community since after the announcement. Interestingly, lawyers rely on the same Sections of the law in arriving at different conclusion. Mr. Salisu M. Sabo has also joined his voice to those who believe that President Buhari acted within the confines of the law.
“When we look at the National Honours Act, there re subsidiary legislations which provide for the requirements and mode of appointment and these re called warrants. We have Honours warrants, Honours(arm forces) warrants, Honour (police) warrants, Honours (fire service) warrants and Honour (prison service) warrants. All these warrants stipulate the requirements and mode of appointment for the award in each field.
The Honour warrant which has to do with the conferment of award to other persons that re not servicemen re divided base on seniority and level with GCFR being on top, commander, officer and a member respectively. These re the four ranks of the award base on seniority.
By the provision of article 2 of the Honours warrants. The eligibility for the award of any of the rank above is that the recipient must be a citizen of Nigeria and only honorary award can be conferred on an alien. The mode through which such award can be conferred is prescribed in the said article and by Article 3 the president is empowered to dispense with such mode as he deems fit.
MKO Abiola GCFR is a citizen of Nigeria and the mode and circumstances in which the president deems fit to award such rank to him is through his family and after his demised
Honours (arm forces ) warrants on the other hand takes different forms and different areas. There re seven forms under such headings and each has its peculiarity and area of consideration. They re divided base on the speciality of duty and expertise as opposed to seniority. The “Nigeria star” is base on bravery and sacrifice in the presence of an enemy and that’s where posthumous award was mentioned, there re other awards which re base on good conduct and service delivery.. These re there own eligibility and did not in any way invalidate the other eligibility for general category above where MKO Abiola GCFR has been awarded.
Therefore, Mr. President conferment of Award to MKO Abiola posthumously was legal as no provision restrained him to do so or was it unequivocally stated that ONLY arm forces can be awarded posthumously. And had the lawmakers intended to restrict it only to servicemen as HIS LORDSHIP want us to believe, they could have added in the requirements in the Act especially in the general category that the recipient must be alive, absence of any such provision gives Mr. President the right to apply the general rule..I share your position sir.
SALIS M SABO