NDDC Appointments: Court strikes out suit against FG

By Wandoo Sombo

The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday struck out a suit instituted against the Federal Government challenging alleged uneven distribution of appointments into the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Delivering judgment, Justice Inyang Ekwo, said the suit was struck out on grounds that the plaintiff, Mrs RitaLori Ogbebor, a woman activist and businesswoman, had no legal right to file the suit.

Justice Ekwo held that Section 2 of the NDDC Act 2000, was specific that “any legal action on any infraction in matters relating to NDDC could only be filed by corporate persons and not individuals such as the plaintiff’’.

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

The plaintiff, who claimed to be a stakeholder from Itsekiri extraction of Delta, had dragged the federal government, the Attorney-General of the Federation and the NDDC to the court.

Joint in the suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1069/2019, are the Senate, Mr Pius Odubu and Olorogun Bernard-Okumagba.

The woman activist prayed the court to invoke Section 4 and 12 of the NDDC Act to order the federal government to appoint indigenes of oil-producing areas of Delta as chairman in compliance with Section 4 of the law.

She further asked the court to compel the federal government to appoint an Itsekiri indigene from the oil-producing area of Delta as the Managing Director of the NDDC.

The plaintiff also urged the court to make a declaration that the federal government was under legal obligation to comply with all laws relating to appointments in the NDDC.

Defendants in the suit, however, filed a preliminary objection and challenged the legal right of the plaintiff to had filed the suit.

The defendants argued that Section 2 of the NDDC Act was specific in stating that only corporate persons could institute actions where infractions occurred.

The judge upheld the arguments of the defendants and said that the plaintiff had no locus standi to had instituted the suit.

He opined that if those empowered by law to challenge infractions in the NDDC appointments refused or neglected to act;  then they did not consider it an infraction.

“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 claim 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 plaintiff,” the judge ruled.

Speaking to newsmen after the judgment, the plaintiff decried the plight of the people of Itsekiri extraction saying she would pursue the case up to the Supreme Court.

Ogbebor also said that she would only employ legal means in the pursuit of justice for her community, adding that violence is not the right way to get justice. (NAN)