LAGOS-based human rights lawyer and activist, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, has stated that the recent reconstitution of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) board is illegal, adding that Olatokunbo Ayotunde Ajasin cannot represent Ondo State on the board.
Adegboruwa, in a statement on Friday, stated that it is shocking that President Muhammadu Buhari will constitute a board when there is a case pending before the court of law on the issue of the NDDC.
“I read with great shock the news that President Muhammadu Buhari has forwarded the names of new members of the Board of 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 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,” he said.
“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,” Adegboruwa said.
“As if this was not enough, the President approved a whooping budget of over N300Billion, 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 5th Governing Board of the NDDC. Amongst this illegal Board is Olatokunbo Ayotunde Ajasin, an indigene of Owo, in the North Senatorial District of Ondo State.” He further stated.
According to him, 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 that 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
That 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;
One representative of Oil producing companies in the Niger Delta nominated by the Oil producing companies, one person to represent the Federal Ministry of Finance; one person to represent Federal Ministry of Environment; the Managing Director of the Commission; and two executive Directors.”
Adegboruwa argued further that the operative words 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,” he concluded.