By Henry Ojelu
A N10 billion fundamental enforcement suit has been filed against the Delta State Government at a Federal High, Lagos over alleged the marginalization of Ndokwa/Ukwani land.
The applicants in the suit are the President, League of Ndokwa Professionals (LNP) Chief Tony Amechi and Legal Adviser, Evans Ufeli on behalf of the people of Ndokwa/Ukwani land of Delta State.
Delta State Governor, Delta State Executive Council, Delta State House of Assembly and the Attorney General of the state are respondents in the suit.
The applicants are seeking for the an order of the court for the enforcement of the fundamental rights of the people of Ndokwa/Ukwani nation of Delta State as entrenched in Chapter IV of the Constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
In the suit filed through an originating motion, the plaintiff are praying the court for a declaration
that the deliberate exclusion of Ndokwa/Ukwani land from the developmental projects of the 1st respondent is discriminatory and amount to a violation of the fundamental rights of the applicants and the entire people of Ndokwa/Ukwani in Delta State as protected and guaranteed by Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
They are praying the court for an order directing or mandating the 1st, 2nd and 4th respondents to immediately review the road construction projects with immediate effect and make the necessary adjustments to include roads in Ndokwa/Ukwani Land in the projects.
The plaintiffs also prayed the court for order directing the 1st respondent to send an additional bill to the 3rd Respondent to also site a University in Ndokwa/Ukwani land; an order restraining the 3rd Respondent from approving any Executive Bill from the 1st Respondent that excludes (discriminates against) Ndokwa/Ukwani land/people from developmental projects.
They asked the court to order the respondents to pay to the applicants and the entire people of Ndokwa/Ukwani the sum of N10 billion as general damages for the violation of their fundamental right as enshrined in Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and for cost of the suit as assessed by the court.
The plaintiffs argued that by virtue of sections 42(1)(2) of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the applicants are protected from being discriminated against by government in carrying out its executive functions.
They argued that the respondents by constructing roads in all local government areas of Delta state, covering all communities deliberately excluded Ndokwa/Ukwani land/Community which is the community of the applicants is not only an act of injustice by a violation of the Applicant’s Constitutional Right to freedom from discrimination in government policies.
They averred that citing Universities in key communities in Delta state, and excluding the applicant’s community (Ndokwa/Ukwani) despite the fact that their community is one of the key communities in Delta State (with the second largest population and second largest oil producing area in Delta State) is discriminatory and wrongful.
In an 26-paragraph affidavit deposed to in support of the application, Evans Ufeli, the 2nd applicant, averred that that Ndokwa/Ukwani land produces a huge mass of the oil and gas resources that contributes to the 13 per cent Oil Derivation Fund accruing to the Delta State Government every month from the Federal Government.
He averred that in December 2020 the 2nd respondent approved the construction of thirteen roads across Delta State and a flyover along Ibusa Road at Koka junction, Asaba (as presented to them by the 1st Respondent) but that in the whole of these projects, there is no provision for Ndokwa/Ukwani land in the entire project.
He said that in a vanguard publication dated December 23, 2020 the State Commissioner for Works, Chief James Augoye disclosed the approval of the listed road while briefing newsmen after the State Executive Council meeting where he said the Ministry would complete the procurement processes for the projects by the end of January, 2021.
He stated that the 1st Respondent recently sent Executive Bill to the 3rd Respondent, to upgrade three Higher Institutions of College of Education Agbor, to a University of Education; Anwai Campus of the Delta State University, to Delta State University of Science and Agriculture; and the Ozoro Polytechnic, to Delta State University of Science and Technology but that none of these institutions is situated in Ndokwa/Ukwani Land.
He contended that it will amount to gross socio-economic injustice to leave Ndokwa/Ukwani Land without any meaningful developmental project as this will amount to lack of inclusiveness in governance especially when the area contributes immensely to the revenue generation of the State.
He said that the exclusion of Ndokwa/Ukwani land in the developmental projects of the 1st respondent is discriminatory and amount to a violation of the fundamental rights of the Applicant and the entire Ndokwa/Ukwani people of Delta State.
He stated that by a letter dated 29th January, 2021, copied to the 3rd Defendant, the Applicants demanded that the 1st Respondent address this act of injustice by ensuring equitable distribution of developmental projects to include Ndokwa/Ukwani land as one of the beneficiaries, but the said letter was ignored by the 1st Respondent.
He contended that it will serve the interest of justice if the 1st Respondent is directed or ordered to review the road construction projects with immediate effect and make the necessary adjustments to include roads in Ndokwa /Ukwani Land in the projects.
He averred that granting the applicant’s reliefs will serve the interest of justice, and uphold the sanctity of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.