Buhari Dragged to Court By Senator Ifeanyi Godwin Ararume

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CEM REPORT, ENERGY | A N100 billion suit has been instituted against President Muhammad Buhari by Senator Ifeanyi Godwin Ararume.

Ararume lawyers filed the suit at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, over his alleged unlawful removal as Chairman of the Board of  Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited.

Other than the N100 billion in damages for his wrongful removal, disruption and interruption of his term of office as Non-Executive Chairman of the NNPC, he is praying the court for an order reinstating him forthwith and restoring him to the office with all the appurtenant rights and privileges of the office of the NNPC Non-Executive Chairman.

In support of the suit, Ararume explained that on October 20, 2021, he was appointed as a Non-Executive Chairman of NNPC. The appointment was to last for an initial period of five years.

He added that because of his appointment, he attended the 23rd World Petroleum Congress in the United States of America only for the President to inaugurate the NNPC Board on January 7, 2022, with another person’s name listed in the position he was appointed.

He averred that because of the President’s actions, he suffered a loss of credibility and goodwill, untold emotional, mental and psychological trauma, and public humiliation, degradation and embarrassment.

He is also asking the court for an order setting aside his removal by Buhari via a letter dated January 17, 2022, with reference number SGF.3V111/86.

He also wants the court to nullify and set aside all decisions and resolutions made by the NNPC board in his absence to date.

Other relief sought includes

“A declaration that his position as Non-Executive Chairman of the NNPC is exclusively governed and regulated by CAMA 2020, PIA Act 2021 and Memorandum of Association of the Company.

“A declaration that by the provisions of section 63 (3) of the PIA Act, CAMA Act, and Memorandum of Association of the NNPC, the President cannot by will remove him from office as Non-Executive Chairman without following due process of the law.”

Ararume set four issues before the court to be determined.

“Whether in view of the provisions of the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the NNPC, Companies and Allied Matters Act 2010 and the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, the office of the Non-Executive Chairman is not governed and regulated by the stated provisions of the law.

“Determine whether, by the interpretation of section 63 (3) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, the President can lawfully remove him as Non-Executive Chairman of the NNPC for any reason outside the provisions of the law.

“Determine whether Buhari can sack him without compliance with expressly stated provisions of the Articles of Memorandum of Association of the Company, section 63 (3) of the PIA Act 2021 and section 288 of the CAMA Act 2020.

“Determine whether his purported removal vide letter of January 17, 2022, without compliance with expressly stated provisions of the law is not wrongful, illegal, null and void and of no legal consequence whatsoever.”

The suit, filed at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, is before Justice Inyang Ekwo who has fixed December 15 for further hearing.

On September 19, 2021, Senator Ararume was nominated by President Buhari as the Chairman of the Board of NNPC Limited.

However, the inauguration of the Board and management, initially scheduled for November 23, 2021, was later suspended by the President.

Subsequently, in a letter dated January 17, 2022, Ararume was informed that his name had been dropped and replaced with Senator Margaret Chuba Okadigbo without any explanation to justify his removal.

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