Court Dismisses Suit Against Buhari, AGF, Others Over NDDC Appointments

A Federal High Court in Abuja, via Justice Inyang Ekwo, on Thursday, struck out a suit filed against President Muhammadu Buhari, challenging an alleged lopsidedness in the appointments into the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

The suit filed by Abuja-based businesswoman and Niger Delta stakeholder, Rita Lori Ogbebor, was struck out by the Court on the ground that the plaintiff has no legal rights to have filed the case.

The Court held that Section 2 of the NDDC Act 2000 was so specific that any legal action on any infraction in matters relating to NDDC can only be instituted by corporate persons and not individuals like the plaintiff.

According to the judgement, the law was clear that power to file any case to challenge infractions in the NDDC cannot be delegated by proxy to anybody.

Ogbebor, who claimed to be a stakeholder from Itsekiri extraction of Delta State had dragged Buhari, NDDC, Senate, Pius Odubu, Olorogun Bernard Okumagba and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) before the Court in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1069/2019.

The woman activist urged the court to invoke Sections 4 and 12 of the NDDC Act to order Buhari to appoint an indigene of oil-producing areas of Delta State as chairman of NDDC in specific compliance with Section 4 of the Act.

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The plaintiff also prayed the court for another order compelling Buhari to appoint Itsekiri indigene from oil-producing areas of Delta State as the Managing Director of the NDDC.

She further asked that the Court declared Buhari under legal obligation to comply with all laws relating to appointments in the NDDC.

Defendants in the suit, however, filed preliminary objections and challenged the legal right of the plaintiff to have instituted the action, stating that only corporate persons can institute actions where infractions occur.

In his judgment, Ekwo held that if those empowered by law to challenge infractions in the NDDC appointments refuse or neglect to act, then they do not consider it material infraction or infraction at all.

“The consequence of lack of locus standi is dire and the courts have been unwavering in making pronouncements on it. It is the law that the claims must be struck out when a plaintiff is found to be lacking locus standi.

“I am bound to follow the law, and I hereby make an order striking out the case of the plaintif,” the Judge ruled.

The plaintiff, reacting to the judgment, bemoaned the plight of the people of Itsekiri extraction and vowed that the case will be pursued up to the Supreme Court level.

Ogbebor further said that she would stand by legal actions only and would not encourage violence because she does not believe in such.