From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The controversy over the appointment of Mr. Effiong Okon Akwa as the Interim Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by President Muhammadu Buhari has taken a legal dimension with a suit before the Abuja division of the Federal High Court seeking to void the appointment.
In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/609/2020, the plaintiff, Patriotic Youth Organization of Nigeria specifically urged the court to declare the appointment of Effiong Akwa as a sole Administrator of the NDDC as illegal, void and null and of no effect.
The suit has the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice; the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and Mr. Effiong Okon Akwa as the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th defendants respectively.
Until his new appointment, Effiong Akwa was the Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration, of the NDDC, under the Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei-led Interim Management Committee (IMC).
His appointment was contained in a statement issued by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina.
It stated that Akwa would henceforth oversee the affairs of the Commission till the end of the ongoing forensic auditing of the interventionist agency.
But in a suit filed by K.C. Okpo, dated December 14, 2020, the group said his appointment as a sole Administrator violated the provisions of section 2,3,4, and 12 of the NDDC (Establishment) Act Cap N86 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
The plaintiff are urging the court to declare that the appointment of Akwa as a sole Interim Administrator or any other appellation ascribed to his appointment by the president is a clear violation of the NDDC (Establishment) Act, specifically section 2, 3, 4 and 12 of the Act.
The plaintiff is accordingly seeking an order of court declaring any act or action taken by Akwa in NDDC as illegal, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
Before the declaratory reliefs, the plaintiff posed the following questions for the determination by the court: “whether by combined reading of section 2, 3, 4 and 12 of the NDDC (Establishment) Act Cap N86 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, the first defendant (President Buhari) or any other person has the power to appoint any person into the Board of the NDDC as a sole Administrator.
“Whether the appointment of the 5th defendant (Okon Akwa) as sole Administrator by the first defendant is not a violation of sections 2, 3, 4, 8 and 12 of the NDDC (Establishment) Act Cap N86 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.