Members of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC board, have asked the National Industrial Court sitting in Abuja, to declare that President Muhammadu Buhari has no powers to sack them as their appointments are governed by statutes and for a fixed period, as same period has not expired.
It will be recalled that there were recent circulars from the office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation, dated July 16, 2015, Ref. No. SGF.19/S.81/XIX/964 and July 23, 2015, Ref. No. SGF.55/S.2 that all boards stand dissolved. The Sen Bassey Ewa-Henshaw led board, through their counsel, Mr Ebun-Olu Adegborowa, is contending that the circular were wrongly applied to NDDC.
Defendants in the suit are the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senate and House of Representatives. Their counsel pointed out that by virtue of section 6 (6) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, once parties have submitted their dispute before a competent court, none of them is allowed to resort to self-help or to take any step that may jeopardize the due hearing of the matter on its merit.
The claimants argued that by virtue of sections 2, 3 and 5 of the NDDA Establishment Act, they were entitled to four years unbroken tenure from December 16, 2013 to December 15, 2017 and they cannot be deprived of the said appointments, or removed from office, dissolved or their appointments terminated save and in accordance with the extant provisions of the said Act.
According to them; “By virtue of the NDDC Establishment Act, the Governing Board of the commission cannot be dissolved, either through the letters dated July 16, 2015, Ref. No. SGF.19/S.81/XIX/964 and July 23, 2015, Ref. No. SGF.55/S.2, respectively, or in any other manner that constitutes a violation of sections 2,3,5 and other extant provisions of the said NDDC Act.”
They are praying the court to; “Declare that the letters respectively, are ultra vires, ineffective and ineffectual to ground the dissolution of the 4th Governing Board of the NDDC and the same are invalid, null and void and of no effect whatsoever, in so far as they relate to the dissolution of the said Governing Board.
“An order forthwith re-instating the claimants as members of the 4th Governing Board of the NDDC in compliance with their respective letters of appointment and sections 2, 3, 5 and other extant provisions of the NDDC Establishment Act and to direct the second defendant to pay all allowances, benefits and perquisites to which the claimants are otherwise entitled.”