Paul Osuyi, Asaba
An anti-corruption group, Centre for Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Crusade (CHURAC) has dragged Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State and three others to court over the appointment of a former member of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Michael Diden, as chairman of the board of the state’s Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC).
CHURAC which picked holes in Diden’s appointment, said it negated relevant sections of the law that established DESOPADEC with particular reference to the principle of rotation of offices among oil-producing ethnic nationalities.
In the suit which was instituted at the state High Court, Warri, with number W/154/2019, the group is seeking the nullification of the appointment.
CHURAC argued that the immediate past chairman of the board, Godwin Ebose, hails from the same ethnic nationality (Itsekiri) with Mr. Diden popularly called Ejele.
Governor Okowa, the state Attorney General, the Speaker of Delta State House of Assembly were joined in the suit as first, second and third defendants respectively, while the DESOPADEC chairman, Diden, is the fourth defendant.
The suit filed on behalf of the claimants by J.P Oromoni, is also seeking the declaration of the court compelling the first defendant to withdraw the appointment of the fourth defendant as he is not qualified to be appointed as board chairman pending the determination of the substantive suit.
According to it, “that by virtue of the provisions of Section 15(1), (2) a & b and (3) of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission Law, 2015 (as amended in 2019) the first defendant cannot nominate for appointment any person as a member of the governing board of Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) whose ethnic nationality produced the immediate past board member of the same office.
“Appointing the fourth defendant as chairman from Itsekiri ethnic nationality into the governing board of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission having earlier appointed one Godwin Ebosa as chairman in the governing board of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) from the same Itsekiri ethnic nationality in 2015 is an aberration.”
The group further prayed the court that by virtue of Sections 2, 7(1) a, b & c and (2) and Section 15(1), (2) a & b and (3) of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission Law, 2015 (as amended in 2019), no ethnic nationality who has produced or is producing either the chairman, the managing director or the executive directors can succeed itself without following the rotational circle as provided in the Law.
While also urging the court to compel the defendants to put up an appearance within 30 days after service of the summons on them, inclusive of the day of such service cause an appearance to be entered for them and file any other process in response to the summons which is issued upon the application of the originating summons of the claimants.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa had recently inaugurated the board of the interventionist agency with Diden as chairman of 15 others as managing director, executive directors and members.