Reconstituted NDDC Board is illegal, By Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa •Why Olatokunbo Ajasin cannot represent Ondo State

Posted by News Express | 23 July 2016 | 2,632 times

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I read with great shock the news that the President, Maj-Gen Muhammadu Buhari, Retd., has forwarded the names of new members of the Board of the Niger-Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to the Senate for confirmation. First, there is a case, Suit No. NICN/ABJ/269/2015, between Senator Bassey Ewa-Henshaw & 9 Ors. v. Hon Attorney-General of the Federation & 4 Ors, pending before the National Industrial Court, Abuja, challenging the illegal dissolution of the 4th Governing Board of the NDDC. The President is a party to the said suit, wherein he is being represented by the Hon Attorney-General of the Federation.

Very recently, the President lambasted the entire judiciary in Nigeria, for allegedly frustrating the nebulous and selective anti-corruption war. When convenient for the President, he will violate all tenets of democracy and the rule of law and turn around to intimidate the judiciary. The law is fairly well settled now that when parties have submitted their disputes before a competent court of law, they are not allowed thereafter to resort to self help or take steps that may render nugatory, any decision that may be taken by the court ultimately, on the said matter.

Whilst the above case was pending in court, the President proceeded to dissolve the Board of the NDDC and appointed a sole administrator, contrary to the provisions of the NDDC Act. As if this was not enough, the President approved a whooping budget of over N300 Billion, for the NDDC, to be administered a single sole administrator, Mrs. Ibm Seminitari, just because she a chieftain of the ruling All Progressive Congress.

Whilst we were still contending with all these illegalities and anomalies, the President has now purported to constitute members of the 5thGoverning Board of the NDDC. Amongst this illegal Board is Olatokunbo Ayotunde Ajasin, an indigene of Owo, in the North Senatorial District of Ondo State. By any account, Olatokunbo Ayotunde Ajasin is eminently qualified on the merit, to occupy any position that the President may deem fit for that purpose, but such appointment, in relation to the NDCC, must be in conformity with the enabling law, in this case the Niger-Delta Establishment Act, 2000. Section 2 of the NDDC Act states as follows:

2.- (1) There is hereby established for the Commission a governing Board (in this Act referred to as (“the Board”), which shall consist of:

(a) a Chairman;

(b) one person who shall be an indigene of an oil producing area to represent each of the following member States, that is,

(i) Abia (ii) Akwa-Ibom State; (iii) Bayelsa State; (iv) Cross River State; (v) Delta State; (vi) Edo State; (vii) Imo State; (viii) Ondo State; and (ix) Rivers State; 

(c) three persons to represent non-Oil mineral producing States provided that such membership should be drawn from the remaining geo-political zones which are not represented in the Commission; 

(d) One representative of Oil producing companies in the Niger Delta nominated by the Oil producing companies.

(e) one person to represent the Federal Ministry of Finance;

(f) one person to represent Federal Ministry of Environment;

(g) the Managing Director of the Commission; and 

(h) two executive Directors.”

The operative words here are as contained in section 2(1)(b) above is that representatives of the States constituting the Board of the NDDC “... shall be an indigene of an oil producing area ...”. An indigene is a native of a particular area, born in that area and with historical roots therein, with either of the parents also originating from the same area. By all accounts, Olatokunbo Ayotunde Ajasin is not from the oil producing area of Ondo State, being a native of Owo. 

Consequently, the President is humbly urged to withdraw the nomination of Olatokunbo Ayotunde Ajasin as a representative of the oil producing area of Ondo State on the Board of the NDDC, failing which a suit will be filed in court to challenge the said nomination, being one that is contrary to the NDDC Act.

Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, Esq., whose photo appears alongside this piece, writes from Lekki Lagos. 

Source: News Express

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