NGOs Threaten Court Action over Transfer of NDDC to Niger Delta Ministry

  • Give FG 14-day ultimatum to reverse step
  • Akpabio’s aide declines comment

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

Two Non-Governmental Organisations – Accountable Leadership For Better Nigeria Initiative and Act Initiatives – have threatened to sue the federal government if it fails within 14 days to reverse the recent transfer of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) from The Presidency to Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.

The two groups in a two-page petition dated October 10, 2019 and titled ‘Re: Illegal Transfer of Niger Delta Development Commission From The Presidency To Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs – Demand for Immediate Reversal’ addressed to Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice asked the Justice Minister to promptly ensure the reversal of the transfer within 14 days of receiving the petition.
The two NGOs in the petition signed on their behalf by their Solicitor, Tolu Babaleye, further stressed that “we shall take to our clients’ outstanding instructions of taking the matter to court at the expiration of the time stated above if the matter is not resolved to the knowledge of Nigerians”.

The Solicitor described his clients as reputable NGOs “with commitment and passion for an orderly society and a better Nigeria where things are done by leaders in accordance with the laid down legal standards to engender good governance for the betterment of the citizenry.
He, however,expressed the displeasure of his clients by the illegal way and manner NDDC was moved from the Presidency allegedly by the Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Senator Godswill Akpabio, and Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Abba Kyari.

“Our Clients, as good governance watchdogs, wish to use this medium to express their displeasure and sadness over the recent illegal and unlawful action taken (allegedly) by the duo of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Godswill Akpabio and the Chief of Staff to the President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. Abba Kyari, which if not checked might lay a bad precedent in the country and our Clients feel very strongly that this must be brought to the notice and knowledge of the Chief Law Officer of the Federation and Justice Ministry to unearth the underlying factor necessitating such action”.

The petition further stated inter alia: “Honourable Minister Sir, via a letter dated 2nd September, 2019 with Reference No. SH/COS/81/A/1900 signed by Mr. Abba Kyari and addressed to Honourable Minister, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs which is under the supervision of Senator Goodswill Akpabio, the former granted the request of the latter by transferring and purportedly delegating the management and control of the Niger Delta Development Commission to the Ministry under Senator Goodswill Akpabio without consultation with the relevant stakeholders; which action is against the Law of the land as the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is by virtue of Section 7 of the Niger Delta Development Commission Act charged with the sole responsibility of overseeing the affairs of the Commission and same is not delegate-able to any person or body. The principle is delegatus non- potest delegare (one to whom power is delegated cannot himself further delegate that power).

“Our Clients are left in awe as to the rationale behind the actions of Messirs Kyari and Akpabio and the pecuniary gains they intend to get in brazenly circumventing the Law. As stakeholders in the Nigeria project, our Clients are greatly concerned and profoundly worried about this patently illegal and unlawful act being perpetrated by men on whom President Muhammadu Buhari rely to help him drive his administration mantra which is based on Next-level goal and good governance. This is disheartening and disconcerting, to say the least. Our Clients are of the strong opinion that this ugly development must not be allowed to be swept under the carpet, hence this letter of petition to your exalted office for reversal of this infraction of our Constitution and NDDC Act.

“In the light of the foregoing, our Clients hereby unequivocally demand immediate reversal of the action of Messirs Kyari and Akpabio and restore the Niger Delta Development Commission to its appropriate and original statutory domain as an autonomous Commission which is the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the interest of the Nigerian public, public probity and good governance” the petition said.

Contacted to comment on the allegations on behalf of his principal, the Special Adviser on Media to the Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Mr Anie Ekong, on Sunday declined to speak on the issue.
He told THISDAY “I don’t have any comment, good morning, no comments, please.”