There are strong indications that Abubakar Malami, Attorney-General of the Federation, and Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, have withdrawn their letters of resignation to enable them to contest for higher offices.
The two were among the 10 cabinet members present at the valedictory session held for the outgoing ministers on Friday. President Muhammadu Buhari had, on Wednesday, directed his cabinet members seeking elective positions to hand in their resignation on or before May 16.
But on Friday, Ngige announced his withdrawal from the 2023 presidential race to concentrate on his job.
There are also reports that Malami has withdrawn from the Kebbi governorship race.
However, some Nigerian lawyers have reacted to the latest development.
Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said ministers who resigned over their appointment can only be reappointed after confirmation by the Senate.
Falana, in a statement, said such a withdrawal is “illegal” as it constitutes “a gross contravention of section 306 (2) of the Constitution which stipulates that the resignation of any person from any office established by this Constitution shall take effect when the writing signifying the resignation is received by the authority or person to whom it is addressed or by any person authorised by that authority or person to receive it”.
“Since the resignation of the former ministers has taken effect, they cannot return to the cabinet either of their own volition or the directive of the President,” the statement reads.
“The resignation of the ministers is not a cabinet reshuffle. It is akin to the removal of the former ministers by the President.
“Therefore, if the former ministers are going to be reappointed, the President is required by section 147 of the Constitution to submit names to the Senate for fresh screening and confirmation,” Falana said.
Apart from Ngige and Malami other ministers affected by the resignation order include Dr Ogbonaiya Onu, the Science and Technology Minister; Emeka Nwajiuba, the Minister of State for Education; Godswill Akpabio, the Niger Delta Minister; and Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi.
Others are Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipriye Sylva; Tayo Alasoadura, the Minister of State for the Niger Delta Affairs; Mrs Pauline Tallen, Minister of Women’s Affairs; and Minister of State for Mines and Steel, Uche Ogar.