NDDC Appointments: Court strikes out suit against FG

NDDC Appointments: Court strikes out suit against FG

By Wandoo Sombo, Abuja.

 

The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday struck out a suit instituted against the Federal Government, challenging alleged uneven distribution of appointments into the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

 

Delivering judgment, Justice Inyang Ekwo, said the suit was struck out on the grounds that the plaintiff, Mrs RitaLori Ogbebor, a woman activist and businesswoman, had no legal right to file the suit.

 

Ekwo held that Section 2 of the NDDC Act 2000 was specific that “any legal action on any infraction in matters relating to NDDC could only be filed by corporate persons and not individuals such as the plaintiff.’.

 

According to the judge, the law is clear that the power to file any case to challenge infractions in the NDDC cannot be delegated by proxy to anybody.

 

The plaintiff, who claimed to be a stakeholder from Itsekiri extraction in Delta State, had dragged the Federal Government, the Attorney-General of the Federation and the NDDC to the court.

 

Also joined in the suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1069/2019, are the Senate, Mr Pius Odubu and Olorogun Bernard-Okumagba.

 

The plaintiff prayed the court to invoke Section 4 and 12 of the NDDC Act to order the Federal Government to appoint indigenes of oil-producing areas of Delta State as chairman, in compliance with Section 4 of the law.

 

Ogbebor also asked the court to compel the Federal Government to appoint an Itsekiri indigene from the oil-producing area of Delta State as the Managing Director of the NDDC.

 

The plaintiff also urged the court to make a declaration that the Federal Government was under legal obligation to comply with all laws relating to appointments in the NDDC.

 

Defendants in the suit, however, filed a preliminary objection and challenged the legal right of the plaintiff to have filed the suit.

 

The defendants argued that Section 2 of the NDDC Act was specific in stating that only corporate persons could institute actions where infractions occurred.

 

The judge upheld the arguments of the defendants and said that the plaintiff had no locus standi to institute the suit in the first instance.

 

Ekwo said that if those empowered by law to challenge infractions in the NDDC appointments refused or neglected to act; then, they did not consider it an infraction.

 

“The consequence of lack of locus standi is dire and the courts have been unwavering in making pronouncements on it.

 

“It is the law that the claim must be struck out when a plaintiff is found to be lacking locus standi.

 

“I am bound to follow the law and I, hereby, make an order striking out the case of the plaintiff,” the judge ruled.

 

Speaking to newsmen after the judgment, Ogbebor decried the plight of the people of Itsekiri extraction, vowing that she would pursue the case up to the Supreme Court.

 

The plaintiff also said that she would only employ legal means in the pursuit of justice for her community, adding that violence was not the right way to get justice.

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