NDDC Interim Committee Is Illegal, Actions Open To Litigation — Falana, SAN - Welcome to Uju Ayalogu's Blog

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Sunday, 1 March 2020

NDDC Interim Committee Is Illegal, Actions Open To Litigation — Falana, SAN

NDDC Interim Committee Is Illegal, Actions Open To Litigation — Falana, SAN

Senior lawyer and human rights activist Femi Falana (SAN) has spoken on the dangers of the Buhari administration flouting the law setting up the agencies of the federal government.

Speaking at a lecture to mark the Third Anniversary of the administration of Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu in Akure on Wednesday, February 27, Falana said the administration is flouting the law setting up the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by appointing an interim management committee for the agency.

The rights activist noted that the administration’s actions on the NDDC and other such agencies where the laws have been subverted leave the actions in these agencies open to litigation, a point that has been raised by rights groups and lawyers since the government set aside the Board for the Interim Management Committee (IMC).

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In Falana’s words: “The management of the economy includes the appointment of personnel, the board members. These agencies that are owned by the country have the appointment of board members made alone by the president; it is not quite right and I know that you can make a case. It is so bad that some of the appointments have nothing to do with the law.”

On the NDDC, he says that the Act provides that “there shall be 19 members of the Board of NDDC, one of them shall come from the state, but what has happened sir? . . . The President decided to jettison the Board and appointed an interim committee. I am submitting here that there is no provision in the NDDC Act for an interim committee.”

He also came down hard on the administration for appointing more directors for the NNPC than the Act provides for, including the appointment of the Chief of Staff to the President Abba Kyari as a member of the Board.

He said these appointments leave the decisions of the agencies open to litigation adding that: “the danger is that any contract signed by that body can be set aside. Anybody can go to court and say that some of those who took part in the meetings are not known to law and so, do something.”

The position pointed out by the senior lawyer raises grave concern for the forensic audit and other actions being managed by the interim management committee of the NDDC, which experts say can be questioned because the IMC is not known to law.

The president who had appointed the Board was on the verge of inaugurating it when the Niger Delta Minister, Godswill Akpabio announced the appointment of a 3-man IMC which was supposed to stay for three months.

The IMC is now into its fifth month and many indigenes of the Niger Delta region believe that it is part of a game plan to run the multi-billion naira agency without broad representation and with minimal oversight from the National Assembly and stakeholders in the region, a point alluded to by Falana.

He added that he was also surprised that the Senate decided to pass “the budget of NDDC after the embarrassing appointment of interim committee.”

A section of Falana’s comments, which has gone viral, reads thus (unedited):

“I am submitting that the management of the economy includes the appointment of personnel, the board members of these companies. These agencies that are owned by the country have the appointment of board members made alone by the President it is not quite right and I know that you can make a case. It is so bad that some of the appointments have nothing to do with the law. I take NNPC, the cash cow.

The NNPC by virtue of Section 1 of its Act shall have six members. Today, it has nine members, including somebody who put his own name there – the Chief of Staff to the President. The danger sir, learned senior advocate, the danger is that any contract signed by that body can be set aside.

Anybody can go to court and say that some of those who took part in the meetings are not known to law and so, do something. NDDC, this concerns Ondo State.

There shall be 19 members of the Board of NDDC, one of them shall come from the state, but what has happened, sir? The Ninth Senate, Senator Adetunmbi you were one of those who screened and when it was time for the President to inaugurate them he decided to jettison the Board and appointed an interim committee.

I am submitting here that there is no provision in the NDDC Act for an interim committee. Ondo State must be one of the states that should question the appointment of the interim committee. Two, the Senate surprised all of us when it decided to pass the budget of NDDC after the embarrassing appointment of interim committee.”

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