The Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) has instituted a suit before a Federal High Court, Abuja challenging the powers of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, to constitute an interim management team to run the affairs of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Akpabio had told reporters in Abuja last week that the interim committee was to prepare ground for the new Board and supervise the forensic audit which the President had ordered some weeks ago.
According to him, “we are not against forensic audit of NDDC as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari, but, let the process be credible”.
The announcement of an interim management team had sparked outrage in the Niger Delta States, as many see the step as a way to scuttle the development projects of NDDC.
LEDAP, however is the first Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) to challenge Akpabio in court on his ‘interim Committee’.
LEDAP is been joined as plaintiffs in the suit by some indigenes of the Niger Delta area, who includes Iruo Onoruvwe, Anatole Osuji, and Walter Abere. While NDCC, Dr. Gbene Joi Nunieh, Dr Cairo Ojougboh, and Chief Ibanga Basset Etang were listed as defendants alongside Akpabio.
In the suit, filed by the Executive Director of LEDAP, Chino Obiagwu (SAN) the plaintiff are seeking the following reliefs: a declaration that the purported appointment by the first defendant of three-man interim management for the second defendant is contrary to sections 2, 10, and 12 of the NDDC Act 6 2000(as amended)
A declaration that the purported appointment by the first defendant of the third defendant as the Managing Director of the second defendant, the fourth as Executive Director, Projects, and the fifth defendant as Executive Director, Finance and Administration of the second defendant are contrary to the provisions of section 12(1)(c) of the NDCC Act as amended, which provides that the Managing Director and two executive directors of the second defendant shall be appointed by the President, Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces and confirmed by the Senate in consultation with the House of Representatives.
A declaration that by virtue of Section 12(2) of the second defendant of the NDDC Act,the Managing Director of the second defendant performs his functions under the general direction of the board of the second defendant.
A declaration that the first defendant cannot validly appoint the 3rd-5th defendants as acting Managing Director; and Executive Directors of the second defendant while the list of nominated members of board of the second defendant submitted by the President, pursuant to sections 2, 10, and 12 of the NDDC Act 2000 to the National Assembly is pending the approval of of the Senate.
LEDAP is also seeking an order of the court nullifying the purported appointments of the 3rd-5th defendants as acting Managing Director and Executive Directors of the second defendant. An order restraining the second defendant and its management from handing over, and, or permitting the third to fifth defendants to assume the office of the Managing Director and Executive Directors of the second defendant;
It also asked the court for an order restraining the first defendant by himself or anyhow whatsoever from interfering in the affairs of the second defendant in manner inconsistent with the provisions of the NDDC Act.
No date is yet fixed for the hearing.