Niger Delta communities in Bayelsa State have asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to nullify the appointment of Mr Chiedu Ebie as chairman of the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC on the ground that he was wrongly appointed by President Bola Tinubu.
Meanwhile, Justice Joyce Abdulmalik has fixed March 12 for hearing after confirming service of the suit papers on all respondents.
According to the plaintiffs, Ebie was not qualified to occupy the seat of board chairman, having not come from “the oil-producing area with the highest quantum of oil production.”
The plaintiffs, Chief Goodnews Gereghewei, Chief Eddy Brayei, and Mr Jonah Engineyouwei, who sued on behalf of themselves and Bisangbene, Agge, and Amatu 1 communities in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, made President Tinubu, Senate President, Attorney-General of the Federation, NDDC, and Ebie as the 1st to 5th respondents, respectively.
In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/28/2024, dated and filed on January 11, 2024, the plaintiffs are claiming that both President Tinubu and the National Assembly contravened the NDDC Act by screening and appointing Ebie Chiedu as NDDC Board chairman.
They submitted that although the 5th defendant is from an oil-producing community, “the oil produced is insufficient, [and] thus by the provisions of the law, he is unqualified for
appointment as the chairman” of the 4th defendant’s board.
In the affidavit deposed in support of the suit, the plaintiffs said of Ebie’s appointment: “The screening and confirmation of the 5th defendant by the Nigerian Senate was also done in error and was against the clear provisions of the law.
“That, as a result of the facts above and in particular the facts in paragraphs 2–11, the appointment of the 5th defendant is null, void, and of no effect.”
The plaintiffs, through their lawyer, B. B. Abalaba, are therefore asking the court to determine whether the 5th defendant, who is from a community with minimal oil production, is qualified to be the chairman of the 4th defendant, NDDC.
Other issues raised for determination include whether the appointment of the 5th defendant by the 1st defendant as the chairman of the 4th defendant is not illegal, null, and void.
They, therefore, are seeking from the court an order “setting aside the appointment of the 5th defendant as the chairman of the 4th defendant by the 1st defendant.”
A series of orders they seek include: “An order of injunction restraining the 5th defendant from assuming office or in any way acting as the chairman of the 4th defendant.
“An order of injunction restraining the 4th defendant from recognising the 5th defendant as its chairman or allowing him access to its premises for the purpose of beginning or continuing work as its chairman.
“An order of injunction restraining the 5th defendant from holding himself out as the chairman of the 4th defendant.”