By Festus Ahon
ASABA—WORRIED by what it described as injustice to the Urhobo nation, Centre for Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Crusade, CHURAC, has dragged Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to court over the appointment of Chief Michael Diden as Chairman of the Board of the State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC.
The group in the suit is praying he court to nullify the appointment of Diden, arguing that the immediate past chairman of the board, Chief Godwin Ebosa, also haisl from the Itsekiri ethnic nationality.
It will be recalled that Diden was sworn in as chairman of DESOPADEC board alongside 16 others on July 31 by Governor Okowa in Asaba, the state capital.
Noting that the appointment of Diden negates the provision of the act establishing DESOPADEC, the group in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Mr. Oyinkedi Fuofegha, said the state High Court sitting in Warri had commenced hearing of the matter.
According to the group, Governor Okowa by virtue of the provisions of Section 7(1) a, b & c and (2)a & b of the DESOPADEC Law, 2015 (as amended in 2019) cannot validly appoint Diden (4th defendant) as Chairman of the commission when the governor had previously appointed the former chairman of the board from the Itsekiri Ethnic nationality.
The claimant suit filed by J.P Oromoni is further seeking the court to compel Governor Okowa to withdraw the appointment of Diden, adding that he was not qualified to be appointed as board chairman pending the determination of the substantive suit.
The group is contending “That by virtue of the provisions of Section 15(1), (2) a & b and (3) of DESOPADEC Law, 2015 (as amended in 2019) the governor cannot nominate for appointment any person as a member of the Governing Board of DESOPADEC, whose ethnic nationality produced the immediate past Board Member of the same office.
*Appointing Diden as Chairman from Itsekiri Ethnic nationality into the governing board of DESOPADEC having earlier appointed one Godwin Ebosa as Chairman in the Governing Board of DESOPADEC from the same Itsekiri ethnic nationality in 2015 is an aberration.”