From Godwin Tsa Abuja
Reprieve came the way of the sacked interim management committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) led by Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei as the Incoporated Trustees of Forum for Accountability and Good Governance (FAGG) has withdrawn the suit filed against them.
The Abuja division of the Federal High Court had earlier restrained them from performing the functions of the Board of the NDDC on the strength of the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/617/2020.
The withdrawal of the suit before Justice Ahmed Mohammed followed a notice brought pursuant to orde 50 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) rules 2019 and dated December 4, 2020.
The said notice of withdrawal was filed by counsel to the applicant, Chibuzor Ezike.
The applicant said the decision to withdraw the suit was to prevent plots by certain interest to hijacked it to forestall the ongoing forensic audit of the Commission.
Before the withdrawal of the suit, the court had further granted leave to the applicant to apply for judicial review for an order of mandamus compelling the Independent Corrupt Practice and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), to investigate the Minister of the Niger Delta, Chief Godswill Akpabio and members of the Board over allegations of N3 billion contract fraud.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed in his ruling also granted leave to the applicant to apply for judicial review of the power of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or the Minister of the Niger Delta to appoint Prof. Pondei, Dr. Ojougboh and others in an interim capacity as members of the NDDC Board.
The orders are contained in an enrolled order of the court dated November 5, 2020.
By this order of the Court, the members of the NDDC Board are restrained from performing the functions of the Board pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice which is fixed for December 8, 2020.
Parties joined in the Suit are the Attorney General of the Federation, the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Honourable Minister of the Niger Delta, Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, Dr. Joi Nunieh, Mrs. Caroline Nagbo, Cecilia Bukola Akintomide and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission.
However in a swift action withdrawing the suit, the organization stated that it was being approached by interests whose only target was to stop the ongoing forensic audit of the commission.
The Forum stated that these moves aimed at hijacking the suit for ulterior motives was going to end up negatively and agreed that for the people of Niger Delta and the nation at large, concluding the forensic audit was more beneficial than sacking the Management Committee. :we would rather have an illegal Board to conclude the forensic audit than a no Board and no audit”.
“With this withdrawal, the Prof Kemebradikumo Pondei led Interim Management Committee are now back in charge of the Commission as the order of court abates by reason of the Suit as you cannot keep something on nothing and expect it to stand” the Forum stated.
However, they urged the Prof. Pondei led Committee to continue in their commitment to achieving the forensic audit as that would be a befitting legacy it can leave for Nigerians.