By Ise-Oluwa Ige
ABUJA â€” Two indigenes of the oil-producing areas of Akwa Ibom State, Chief Goddy Iwang and Rev. Jack Mboho have commenced a constitutional law suit before an Abuja Federal High Court seeking to stop President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua and the Senate President, David Mark from appointing the new Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) from Rivers State.
The plaintiffs are contending that appointing the new MD of the NDDC from Rivers will contravene section 12 (1) of the Niger-Delta Development Commission (Establishment, etc) Act Cap 86, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 since Rivers is not a member state of the NDDC with the highest production quantum of oil.
The duo of Goddy and Jack, who are seeking the interpretation of section 12 (1) of the NDDC Act 2004 which provides for how NDDC MD must emerge, are contending that the only qualified oil producing state to produce the next MD of the commission is Akwa Ibom State.
The said section 12 (1) of the NDDC Act 2004 provides that: â€œThere shall be for the commission, a Managing Director and two Executive Directors who shall be indigenes of oil producing areas starting with the member states of the commission with the highest production quantum of oil and shall rotate amongst member states in the order of production.â€
The plaintiffs are claiming that ever since the NDDC was created, the requirement of the law on the appointment of its Managing Director, chairman and others board members have been religiously complied with.
They said, for instance, â€œDelta State being the highest crude oil producer at the inception of the commission and in conformity with the NDDC Act produced the first managing director in the persons of Enginer Godwin Omene and Hom Emmanuel Agwariawhodo.â€
Specifically, the plaintiffs want the court to declare that it is the turn of Akwa Ibom to produce the next MD of NDDC after the expiration of the tenure of the immediate MD, Mr Timi Alaibe who was from Bayelsa State.
They also want the court to issue an order directing President Yarâ€™Adua to nominate and forward to the Senate a suitable candidate from Akwa Ibom State only for the confirmation by Senate as the MD of NDDC in accordance with section 12 (1) of the Act establishing NDDC.
The matter is scheduled for July 22, this year for hearing.
Besides, they are also asking for an order directing the Senate to confirm for appointment into the office of the MD of NDDC only a candidate from Akwa Ibom state in accordance with the same section 12 (1) of the NDDC Act.
They said that â€œupon the resignation of Hon Emmanuel Agwariawhodo, Mr Timi Alaibe, the then Finance and Administration Direcytor, being the most director was appointed in an acting capacity as the MD of the commission until the expiration of the Boardâ€™s tenure.
They said that â€œstill in accordance with the NDDC Act, the same pattern of appointment for the chairmanship of the commission albeit in alphabetical order has been religiously followed.
They said that â€œin this order, Abia state produced the first chairman of the Commission, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu while Akwa Ibom being the second state alphabetically produced the second chairman of the commission, Ambassador Sam Edem and the third chairman of the commission, Mr Dan Abia who completed the unexpired term of Ambassador Edem.â€
They said by the intendment of section 12 (1) of the NDDC Act 2004, Akwa Ibom presently has the highest production quantum of oil amongst all the member states of NDDC and therefore the only state presently qualified to produce the next managing director for the commission.
They buttressed their claim with a number of exhibits including a document from the RMFAC on the 2008 (January through July) revised 13% derivation indices indicating that Akwa Ibom is the highest producer of oil in the country followed by Rivers state.
The document exhibited was signed by RMFAC Chairman, Eng Hamman A Tukur.
In the originating summons filed by their lawyer, Mr Lawal Rabana (SAN), they are asking the court to issue one declaratory and two injunctive reliefs in their favour should it hold that section 12 (1) of the NDDC Act 2004 provides that the state with highest production of oil shall produce the MD of the commission.
Meanwhile, counsel to the plaintiffs, Mr Lawal Rabana has written the Senate not to confirm the appointment of a candidate already sent by President Yarâ€™Adua before it, being not from Akwa Ibom state.
Rabana is urging the lawmakers not to take any step on the appointment in order not to foist a fait accompli on the court.