CEM REPORT | An indigene of the Niger Delta region has filed a suit against the federal government over its alleged unlawful interference in the operations of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The suit filed before a Federal High Court, Abuja claims that the respondents lacked the legal powers to interfere in the day-to-day operations of the NDDC as done by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.
The suit filed by an Abuja-based lawyer, Felix Ekengba, from Imo State, lists President Muhammadu Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Umana Umana and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs Olufunso Adebiyi as 1st to 5th respondents respectively.
The suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1458/2022 filed on August 19, the plaintiff accused the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs of unlawfully assuming the helms of affairs at the Commission, stating that it is in contravention of the law.
The plaintiff is praying the court for an order to restrain the respondents specifically Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Umana Umana from further acting as NDDC’s MD or interfering with the agency’s operations on grounds that he has no power under any law to do so.
The plaintiff also seeks a declaration that under Section 4 of the 1999 Constitution and Section 2 of the NDDC’s Act, 2000, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry not being part of the persons mentioned in Section 2 of the NDDC’s Act cannot interfere or usurp the powers of the board and management of the commission without an amendment to the NDDC’s Act by the National Assembly.
The suit further explained that the interference and intervention of the 3rd to 5th respondents was contrary and in breach of Section 4 of the Constitution and Section 2 of the NDDC’s Act.
Ekengba hence prayed the court to declare any purported acts done by them unconstitutional, illegal, null and void and should be set aside.
He further sought another order of perpetual injunction restraining the 3rd to 5th respondents from interfering, usurping, controlling or issuing directives to the management and staff of the NDDC.
The plaintiff asserted that Buhari by an administrative act allegedly amended the provisions of Section 2 of the NDDC’s Act by appointing the Minister of Niger Delta, and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry as governing board members of the NDDC without amending the law to accommodate them.
He alleged that the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs was aiding and abetting the president in breaching the clear and extant provisions of the 1999 Constitution including the NDDC Act, which the President swore to uphold.
He alleged that in carrying out the unconstitutional fiat, the Minister, Ministry and Permanent Secretary wrote a letter to the NDDC seeking to interfere and usurp the powers of the board on August 8, 2022, by requesting for personnel audit and bio-data of the commission which he claims is in contrary to Section 4 of the 1999 Constitution and Section 2 of the NDDC’s Act.
The legal practitioner also states that the 3rd to 5th respondents inaugurated a committee on the compressive staff audit of the NDDC filed a letter on August 15, 2022, adding that the Minister on August 17, issued directives on the day-to-day running contrary to the clear position of the law.
Insisting that what the 3rd to 5th respondents were seeking to carry out was unconstitutional, the plaintiff prayed the court for an order restraining the respondents from interfering, usurping, controlling or issuing directives to the management and staff of the NDDC since doing so runs contrary to section 4 of the Constitution.
Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for hearing in the suit.