Crisis brews over transfer of NDDC to Niger Delta Ministry as NGOs petition AGF

• Say Abba Kyari's action unconstitutional

Two non-governmental organisations have vowed to challenge the removal of the Niger Delta Development Commission(NDDC) from the Presidency to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.

The groups, Leadership for Better Nigeria Initiative and Act Initiatives claimed the transfer of the management and control of the Niger Delta Development Commission to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs under Senator Godswill Akpabio was a breach of the Act that established the NDDC.

They fingered the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari as the mastermind of the development.

Findings revealed that the Chief of Staff to the President had in a letter dated 2nd September 2019 with Reference No. SH/COS/81/A/1900 signed by him and addressed to Honourable Minister, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio directed the latter to take over the management and supervision of the NDDC.

But the Civil Society groups in a petition by their lawyer, Tolu Babaleye Esquire, and addressed to the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami said the transfer was illegal and unlawful.

Their petition dated 10th October 2019, further claimed that the “action is against the Law of the land as the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is by virtue of Section 7 of the Niger Delta Development Commission Act charged with the sole responsibility of overseeing the affairs of the Commission and same is not delegate-able to any person or body.”

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The petition further reads in part:”Our clients, as good governance watchdogs, wish to use this medium to express their displeasure and sadness over the recent illegal and unlawful action taken by the duo of the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Godswill Akpabio and the Chief of Staff to the President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr Abba Kyari which if not checked might lay a bad precedent in the country and our Clients feel very strongly that this must be brought to the notice and knowledge of the Chief Law Officer of the Federation and Justice Ministry to unearth the underlying factor necessitating such action.

“Your Honourable Sir, via a letter dated 2nd September 2019 with Reference No. SH/COS/81/A/1900 signed by Mr Abba Kyari and addressed to Honourable Minister, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs which is under the supervision of Senator Goodswill Akpabio, the former granted the request of the latter by transferring and purportedly delegating the management and control of the Niger Delta Development Commission to the Ministry under Senator Goodswill Akpabio without consultation with the relevant stakeholders; which action is against the Law of the land as the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is by virtue of Section 7 of the Niger Delta Development Commission Act charged with the sole responsibility of overseeing the affairs of the Commission and same is not delegate-able to any person or body. The principle is delegatus non- potest delegare. (Copy attached.)

“Our clients are left in awe as to the rationale behind the actions of Messrs Kyari and Akpabio and the pecuniary gains they intend to get in brazenly circumventing the Law. As stakeholders in the Nigeria project, our clients are greatly concerned and profoundly worried about this patently illegal and unlawful act being perpetrated by men on whom President Muhammadu Buhari rely to help him drive his administration mantra which is based on Next-level goal and good governance. This is disheartening and disconcerting, to say the least. Our clients are of the strong opinion that this ugly development must not be allowed to be swept under the carpet, hence this letter of petition to your exalted office for reversal of this infraction of our Constitution and NDDC Act.”

Leadership for Better Nigeria Initiative and Act Initiatives threatened to institute legal action against the Federal government if the autonomy of the NDDC under the Presidency was not restored within 14 days.

“In the light of the foregoing, our clients hereby unequivocally demand immediate reversal of the action of Messrs Kyari and Akpabio and restore the Niger Delta Development Commission to its appropriate and original statutory domain as an autonomous commission which is the office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the interest of the Nigerian public, public probity and good governance.

“We on behalf of our client believe that your exalted office should be able to work on the reversal and achieve it within 14 days of service of this letter on you including the date of service.

“Sir, we shall take to our client’s outstanding instructions of taking the matter to court at the expiration of the time stated above if the matter is not resolved to the knowledge of Nigerians.

“While waiting for a feedback from your exalted office on this petition, please accept the esteem of our due professional regards and warmest compliments of our clients. ”

Anitie Ekong, Chief Press Secretary to the Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio, however, declined comments as he neither picked his call nor responded to text messages sent by Tribune Online reporter.

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