Ilaje people seek court intervention to stop inauguration of NDDC board

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Major stakeholders in the Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State have asked the Federal High Court to stop President Muhammadu Buhari from inaugurating the Governing Board of the Niger-Delta Development Commission (NDDC), pending the hearing and determination of the suit filed in court.

The plaintiffs in the case, led by the former Clerk of the National Assembly and also Chairman, Board of Trustees of Ugboland Development Congress, Asiwaju Oluyemi Ogunyomi are Mr. Adebowale Karaki, Dr. Mann Ali, who are also trustee and Secretary of Ugboland Development Congress, respectively.

The other plaintiffs are Incorporated Trustees of Ilaje Advancement Forum, Mr. Idowu Mafimisebi, Mr. Olaniran Obele and Mr. Ige Asemudara, all lawyers representing Ilaje Lawyers Forum.

In the suit filed on Tuesday January 3, at the Abuja headquarters of the Federal High Court by Senior Advocate of Nigeria and human rights activist Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, the plaintiffs are seeking an order of injunction to restrain the President from inaugurating, recognizing or dealing with Mr. Charles B. Ogunmola as the Executive Director, Projects of NDDC since he is from Owo in the Northern axis of Ondo State and not an indigene of the oil producing area of the state.

The other defendants in the suit are the National Assembly, the Senate, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Mr. Charles B. Ogunmola.

Specifically, the Plaintiffs are seeking An Order of Interlocutory Injunction restraining the 1st – 4th respondents whether by themselves, their servants or agents and/ or privies from taking any step or further step in treating and/ or dealing with or in any manner according the 5th respondent the status of Executive Director of Projects of the Niger-Delta Development Commission, pending the hearing and final determination of the Originating Summons herein.

An Order of Interlocutory Injunction restraining the 5th respondent from presenting himself out or in any manner parading himself or performing the functions and duties of Executive Director of Projects of the Niger-Delta Development Commission, pending the hearing and final determination of the Originating Summons herein.

An Order directing the parties herein, whether by themselves, their agents, servants or otherwise howsoever to maintain the status quo ante bellum in respect of the exercise of the statutory duties of the 1st and 3rd Respondents in appointment of an Executive Director of Projects of the Niger-Delta Development Commission, pending the hearing and final determination of the Originating Summons filed herein.

They also seek An Order of Interlocutory Injunction restraining the Respondents, whether by themselves, their servants or agents and/ or privies from taking any step(s) in relation to or that may jeopardize, affect, ridicule the fair and just determination of the subject matter and issues surrounding the substantive matter, pending the hearing and final determination of the Originating Summons herein.

In the main Originating Summons, the Plaintiffs are challenging the appointment of Mr. Charles B. Ogunmola in violation of section 12 (1) of the NDDC Act wherein it is specifically stated that the Managing Director and the Executive Directors of the NDDC must be indigenes of the oil producing areas. In the affidavit in support of the case deposed to by Mr. Adebowale Karaki, it is stated that Mr. Charles Ogunmola has been rejected by the oil producing areas of Ondo State, by the legislators representing Ondo State in the National Assembly and also by the entire people of Ondo State through the Governor of the State who has openly supported his rejection.

The plaintiffs stated further that being the first time an executive appointment of the NDDC is zoned to Ondo State, it will amount grave injustice for the oil producing areas of the state to be shortchanged by denying them the opportunity as Mr. Charles Ogunmola is not suitably qualified to administer projects and feel the pains and anguish of the people directly affected by the impact of oil production and exploration.

ThepPlaintiffs are also seeking the following reliefs from the court:

A. A DECLARATION that having regards to the mandatory provisions of section 12 (1) and other enabling sections of the Niger-Delta Development Commission (Establishment, Etc) Act 2000, appointment into the position of the Executive Director of Projects of the Niger-Delta Development Commission as zoned to Ondo State is limited and exclusive to indigenes of the oil producing areas of Ilaje Local Government Council of Ondo State being the only oil producing area of Ondo State.

B. A DECLARATION that having regards to the mandatory provisions of section 12 (1) and other enabling sections of the Niger-Delta Development Commission (Establishment, Etc) Act 2000, the 5th Defendant is not qualified to be appointed into the position of Executive Director of Projects of the Niger-Delta Development Commission as zoned to Ondo State not being an indigene of the oil producing area of Ondo State and he is not entitled to be nominated, screened, confirmed, assume, be recognized or function in office as such.

C. A DECLARATION that the nomination, confirmation and appointment of the 5th Defendant as the Executive Director of Projects of the Niger-Delta Development Commission is illegal, unlawful, null, void and contrary to the intent and purpose of the Niger-Delta Development Commission (Establishment, Etc) Act 2000.

D. A DECLARATION that the 1st-4th Defendants are under a constitutional and statutory duty to comply with the mandatory provisions of section 12 (1) of the Niger-Delta Development Commission (Establishment, Etc) Act in the appointment of the Executive Director of Projects of the Niger-Delta Development Commission when the said position is zoned to Ondo State as in the present case.

E. A DECLARATION that the 1st-3rd Defendants are under a constitutional and statutory duty to comply with the mandatory provisions of section 12 (1) of the Niger-Delta Development Commission (Establishment, Etc) Act in the appointment and confirmation of the Managing Director, Executive Director, Finance and Administration and Executive Director, Projects of the Niger-Delta Development Commission whenever any of the said positions are zoned to Ondo State as in the present case.

F. AN ORDER nullifying, cancelling, invalidating and setting aside the appointment and confirmation of the 5th Defendant as the Executive Director of Projects of the Niger-Delta Development Commission for being in violation section 12 (1) of the Niger-Delta Development Commission (Establishment) Act 2000.

G. AN ORDER directing the 1st Defendant to forthwith appoint a person from the oil producing area of Ondo State as the Executive Director of Projects of the Niger-Delta Development Commission in compliance with the mandatory provisions of section 12 (1) of the Niger-Delta Development Commission (Establishment, Etc) Act 2000.

H. AN INJUNCTION restraining the 1st-4th Defendants from swearing in, dealing with, recognizing or in any other manner treating the 5th Defendant as the Executive Director of Projects of the Niger-Delta Development Commission.

I. AN INJUNCTION restraining the 5th Defendant from assuming office or parading or holding out himself or performing the functions and duties of Executive Director of Projects of the Niger-Delta Development Commission not being an indigene of the oil producing area of Ondo State.

ALTERNATIVELY,

AN ORDER directing the 5th Defendant to forthwith surrender, relinquish and vacate office as the Executive Director of Projects of the Niger-Delta Development Commission.

J. PERPETUAL INJUNCTION restraining the 1st-4th Defendants, from appointing or confirming the appointment of anyone into the position of Managing Director, Executive Director, Finance or Executive Director Projects respectively of the Niger-Development Commission other than from the oil producing area of Ondo State when such position is zoned to Ondo State as in the present case.

No date has been assigned for the hearing of the suit, which has been served upon the President and the Attorney-General of the Federation.

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