By Eseoghene Emuke
The crisis rocking the running of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) seems yet-to-be over as two Niger Delta-born lawyers have approached a Federal High Court in Abuja praying an order of the court to nullify the Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei-led Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the interventionist agency.
They are also seeking orders of the court to declare the recent inauguration of the Advisory Committee of the commission comprising of governors of the region by President Muhammad Buhari without a substantive board as illegal as well as the commission’s 2019 and 2020 budgets before the National Assembly.
The plaintiffs, Akharame Lucky, Edward Brisibe and two others, contend that by virtue of section12 (2) of the NDDC establishment act No 6 as amended made the inauguration of an Advisory Committee of the NDDC illegal when the commission has no substantive board cleared by the nation’s apex lawmaking body – National Assembly.
The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/361/2020, has Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, NDDC, Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei, Dr, Cairo Ojougboh, Chief Ibang Etang, Mrs. Caroline Nagbo and Cecilia Akintomide as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th defendants respectively.
The lawyers in their originating summon, are asking the court to determine whether the President of Nigeria and the 2nd defendant are authorized under the NDDC act of 2000 or any laws in Nigeria to appoint an Interim Management Committee or appoint the 4th-8thdefendants as interim managing director, executive directors and members of the 3rd defendant.
“Whether the purported appointment of the 4th-8thdefendants by the President and 2nddefendant is contrary to the provisions of section 12 of the NDDC act of 2000 and therefore unlawful, ultra vires, null and void.
“Whether the President of Nigeria is authorized under any laws of Nigeria and particularly the NDDC act of 2000 to inaugurate an advisory board for an interim committee of the NDDC not legally composed as provided by law.”
In a statement, the lawyers stated that they are from the Niger Delta region adding that despite the approval of a governing board for the commission by the senate, President Buhari unconstitutionally suspended the inauguration of the board, and retained the services of a management committee to oversee the activities of the commission.
Meanwhile, human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong in Suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/349/2020, has also approached another Federal High Court in Abuja seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the NDDC Interim Management Committee to manage and supervise the affairs of the agency from exercising the powers exclusively vested in the governing board of the commission, including entering into contract and expenditure of funds of the commission, under the NDDC establishment act 2000.
In the suit filed on March 11, the lawyer is also seeking an order setting aside the 2019 and 2020 budget estimates of the NDDC submitted by President Buhari to the national assembly “same having been submitted in contravention of section 18 (1) of the Niger Delta Development Commission establishment act 2000.”