NDDC Board: Lawyers pray Court to declare Odubu’s Nomination Illegal

As opposition mounts against the list of nominees of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Barrister Andrew Adaze Emwanta, a constitutional lawyer and Felix Ediri Amakata Esq, a practising lawyer and opinion leader from Delta State, have asked the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to declare as invalid and illegal, the nomination/appointment of Dr Pius Odubu as the Chairman of the NDDC Board.

The Defendants in the suit are: 1. The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; 2. The Attorney General of the Federation; 3. The Senate of the National Assembly; 4. President of the Senate of the National Assembly; 5. House of Representatives of the National Assembly; 6. Clerk of the Senate of the National Assembly and 7., Dr Pius Odubu.

In the Originating Summons, Emwanta and Amakata, in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/1017/2019 filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja, sought amongst other reliefs: “A declaration that the  nomination/appointment by the 1st defendant, herein of the 7th defendant, who hails from Edo State as Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission is invalid, illegal, ultra vires and contrary to the provision(s) of Section 4 of the NDDC Establishment Act N0 6, 2000.

“A Declaration that by virtue of Section 4 of the NDDC Establishment Act, 2000, the 3rd, 4th and 5th Defendants are statutorily barred, limited and/or, estopped from receiving, acting upon, and/or confirming the nomination of the 7th defendant, who hails from Edo State, as Chairman of the Governing Board of the NDDC, not being from Delta State.

“An Order of this Honourable Court Declaring the nomination/appointment of the 7th Defendant by the 1st Defendant, to the office of the NDDC Chairman, statutorily meant to be occupied by an indigene of Delta State is invalid, illegal, ultra vires, null and void.

“An Order of perpetual injunction, restraining the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th Defendants from receiving, dealing with and/or confirming/approving the nomination/appointment of the 7th Defendant, an indigene of Edo State, to the office of the Chairman of the NDDC, statutorily meant to be occupied by an indigene of Delta State.

“An Order of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st Defendant from forwarding the nomination of the 7th Defendant to the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th Defendants and/or inaugurate the Governing Board of the NDDC with the 7th Defendant as its Chairman.

In the Affidavit in support of the Originating Summons, the Plaintiffs averred “that Section 4 of the NDDC Establishment Act No. 6 of 2000, mandatorily provides for a rotational  occupation/succession to the office of the Chairman of the Governing Board of the Commission; in an alphabetical order, amongst the 9 member States of the Commission.”

They noted that “since the year 2000 when the Commission was established, the nomination(s) and appointment(s) of past Chairmen of the Governing Board of the Commission have always been in strict compliance with the unambiguous and mandatory provisions of Section 4 of the NDDC Act No. 6 of 2000, in the following order: Chief Onyema Ugochukwu; Abia State (2000-2004) Representing letter “A”; Amb. Sam Edem; Akwa Ibom State (2004-2008) representing letter “A”.

Others according to them are “ A.V.M Larry Koinyan (Rtd); Bayelsa State (2009-2011) letter “B”; Senator Bassey Ewa Henshaw; Cross River State (2013-2015) representing letter “C”; and Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba; Cross River State (2016-2018) representing “C”.

According to the Plaintiffs, “That in line with the mandatory statutory alphabetical order provided for under Section 4 of the NDDC Act, it is a Delta State indigene (representing letter “D”) that is legitimately, statutorily and legally entitled to occupy/succeed to the office of the Chairman of the Governing Board of the NDDC, if and to be inaugurated.”

They explained in their Affidavit that “since the day the list of nominees of the yet to be inaugurated NDDC Board was published, the people and Governments of the 9 member States of the Commission have expressed their rejection and/or displeasure over the said list on the basis of its non-compliance with the letters and spirit of the Act establishing the Commission.

“That the Governors of the member States of the Commission held a meeting in Abuja on August 29, 2019, wherein they expressed their rejection of the list of nominees including the name of the Defendant, as Chairman-designate of the Board of the NDDC.

“That apart from the Governors of the member States of the Commission, the indigenes and Civil Society Groups within the Niger Delta have expressed their rejection and displeasure over the non-compliance with the provisions of the NDDC
Act, particularly Section 4 of the Act, one of such Civil Society Groups is the Niger Delta Entrepreneurs Forum (NDEF), Ied by Kester Okele and Ebipade Timi.

“That in the year in 2000, the 7th Defendant was one of the members of the 5th Defendant, who participated in the legislative processes leading to the passage into law of the NDDC Establishment Act No.6 of 2000. That the 2nd Plaintiff, being an indigene of Delta State feels aggrieved and highly prejudiced that contrary to the mandatory provisions of Section 4 of the NDDC Establishment Act, an indigene of a State other than Delta, is being nominated as Chairman-designate of the Governing Board of the NDDC.

They finally averred that, “It will be in the interest of peace in the Midwest region of the Niger Delta, social justice, adherence to law and order that the reliefs sought by the Plaintiffs are granted by this Honourable Court.”

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