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Lawyer sues Buhari, AGF, others over alleged unlawful interference with NDDC

By Ameh Ochojila, Abuja
23 August 2022   |   4:50 am
An Abuja-based lawyer, Oladimeji Felix Ekengba, has dragged President Muhammadu Buhari, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Niger Delta Affairs before a Federal High Court in Abuja,..

President Muhammadu Buhari. Photo/FACEBOOK/TheAsoVilla

An Abuja-based lawyer, Oladimeji Felix Ekengba, has dragged President Muhammadu Buhari, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Niger Delta Affairs before a Federal High Court in Abuja, challenging their alleged unlawful interference in operations of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

At the centre of the suit is the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Umana Umana, alleged to have unlawfully assumed the position of Managing Director (MD) of NDDC contrary to provisions of the law.

In the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1458/2022, the plaintiff is praying for an order of the court restraining the defendants from further interfering with activities of the commission.

No date has been fixed for hearing. Specifically, the plaintiff wants the court to bar Umana from further acting as NDDC’s MD or interfering with the commission’s operations, since he has no power under any law to do so.

The plaintiff, in the suit filed by himself, is seeking a declaration that by virtue of Section 4 of the 1999 Constitution and Section 2 of the NDDC 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 Act, cannot interfere or usurp the powers of the board and management of the commission without an amendment to the NDDC Act by the National Assembly.

Speaking with journalists, the plaintiff denied being sponsored by anyone or group to institute the case, stressing that as an indigene of Imo State and a legal practitioner, he owes it a duty to ensure that the Constitution is not breached by anybody.

Ekengba also applied for a declaration that interference and intervention of the Niger Delta minister, the ministry and the permanent secretary in the affairs of the commission is contrary and in breach of Section 4 of the 1999 Constitution and Section 2 of the NDDC Act, and that any purported acts done by them are unconstitutional, illegal, null and void, and should be set aside.

The suit instituted on August 19, 2022 by the plaintiff also sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining Minster of Niger Delta Affairs, the Ministry and the Permanent Secretary from interfering, usurping, controlling or issuing directives to the management and workers and intervening in affairs of the commission.

In a 16- paragraph affidavit in support of the originating summons, the plaintiff, who claimed to be an environmental rights activist and a legal practitioner, as well as an indigene, asserted that he is being affected by the alleged unlawful interference of the minister in the operations of the commission.

He further claimed that Buhari, as Nigeria’ s President, who swore to uphold the provisions and tenet of the 1999 Constitution, is under obligations to ensure enforcement and compliance with all Acts of the National Assembly, including that of the NDDC.