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CSOs drag Buhari, Akpabio to court over legality of NDDC’s interim board

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Buhari, Akpabio
Senator Godswill Akpabio with President Buhari in London on Sunday

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri 

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has okayed a suit seeking to sack the interim management committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, constituted by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio. 
The public interest suit marked as FHC/ABJ/CS/1597/2019 was lodged before the court by a coalition of 10 Civil Society Organizations, CSOs, in the country.

Also read: NDDC: N’Delta Assembly warns against moves to shortchange Delta of MD position

President Muhammadu Buhari was cited as the 1st defendants in the Originating Summons the CSOs filed through their lawyer, Mr Okere Kingdom.
Other defendants in the matter are the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Akpabio, the NDDC itself, its interim Management Board, as well as the Senate.
The coalition is among other things, praying the court to sack the interim management committee of the NDDC that was constituted by Akpabio and to also issue an order compelling the members to refund to the NDDC coffer, all salaries and emoluments they received while illegally occupying the office.
Specifically, the plaintiff posed the following questions for the determination of the court:
“Whether having regard to the express provisions, spirit and tenor of section   2 (2) (a)  of the Niger Delta Development Commission (Establishment) Act,  the Hon Minister of Niger Delta  Affairs Godswill Akpabio ( who is the 3rd and 4th defendants in this suit)  has the express statutory or in any way possess any powers to appoint a three-man Interim Management Committee for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
“Whether having regard to the fact that President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has duly exercised his statutory powers to appoint the Chairman and Members of the  Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission and same appointment having been confirmed by the Senate; the purported appointment of an Interim Committee by the Hon Minister of Niger Delta  Affairs,  Godswill Akpabio is ab initio illegal, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
“Whether having regard to the express provisions, spirit and tenor of section 2  (2) (a)  of the Niger Delta Development Commission (Establishment) Act, the tenure of office of the Chairman and Board  Members of the Niger Delta Development Commission did commence automatically upon the confirmation of their nomination by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
Upon determination of the questions, the coalition wants the court to declare having regard to the express provisions, spirit and tenor of section 2  (2) (a)  of the Niger Delta Development Commission (Establishment) Act, the Minister of Niger Delta  Affairs lacked the statutory powers to appoint a three-man Interim Management Committee for the NDDC.
“A Declaration that having regard to the fact that President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has duly exercised his statutory powers to appoint the Chairman and Members of the  Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission and same appointment having been confirmed by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the purported appointment of an Interim Management  Board by the Hon Minister of Niger Delta  Affairs, Godswill  Akpabio,   is ab initio illegal, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
“A Declaration that having regard to the express provisions, spirit and tenor of section  2  (2) (a)  of the Niger Delta Development Commission (Establishment) Act, the tenure of office of the Chairman and Board Members of the Niger Delta Development Commission commenced automatically upon the confirmation of their nomination by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“An order nullifying the purported appointment of an Interim Management  Committee for the Niger Delta Development Commission made illegally by the Hon Minister of Niger Delta  Affairs, Godswill  Akpabio,  as same is ab initio illegal, unknown to the NDDC Act,  null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
“An order directing the members of the Interim Management Committee to immediately vacate the offices they illegally occupy and further compelling to members of the illegally constituted  Interim Management  Committee for the Niger Delta Development Commission to immediately return all salaries and emoluments received illegally while illegally occupying the Board of the Commission and managing the affairs of the Commission.
As well as, “An order mandating and directing  the Chairman  and members of the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission duly appointed by the President of the Federal Republic Of Nigeria  and approved by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, namely:-  Dr Pius Odubu (Chairman); Bernard Okumagba (Delta) Managing Director; Otobong Ndem (Akwa Ibom)-Executive Director, Projects; Maxwell Oko(Bayelsa)-Executive Director, Finance and Administration; Jones Erue (Delta); Victor Ekhator (Edo); Nwogu N Nwogu (Abia) and Theodore Allison (Bayelsa) Victor Antai (Akwa Ibom); Maurice Effiwat (Cross River); Olugbenga Edema (Ondo); Uchegbu Kyrian (Imo); Aisha Muhammed (North West); Shuaibu Zubairu (North East) and Abdullahu Bage (North Central)  to immediately resume duties  as Chairman and members of the NDDC Board  and to immediately report to their various  offices without any further delay.”

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