Award of Nigeria’s highest national honour to late Mr Moshood Abiola is illegal, a former Chief Justice of Nigeria has said.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday evening named Abiola, winner of 1993 presidential election that was annulled by former dictator Mr Ibrahim Babangida, a holder of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, GCFR, 20 years after his death in 1998.
Alfa Belgore, CJN from 2006-2007, said national honours cannot be awarded posthumously, much less GCFR, which is the highest honour in the land.
“It is not done,” Belgore said on telephone Wednesday night. “It is for people living.”
“The only thing they could do is to name a place after him, but national honours award, no,” he added.
Belgore, chairman of 2016 national honours committee, also said he “was not consulted” by the Buhari administration before the decision was taken.
Belgore said under 1963 National Honours Act, only soldiers or other servicemen could be awarded posthumous medals for their bravery.
The president also declared that Democracy Day would be celebrated on June 12 to further honour the memory of Abiola.
The move has received mixed feelings, with supporters of the government seeing it as a welcomed move while critics dismissed it as a desperate political calculation ahead of 2019 elections in which Buhari has declared he would run for second term.