By Udora Orizu
Former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, has called on the leadership of the National Assembly not to release the 2020 budget of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) it passed on Monday to a Sole Administrator recently appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Frank in separate letters to the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, said releasing the 2020 budget of the agency to an entity unknown to the NDDC law would amount to supporting illegality.
Frank in the letters by his lawyer, Edward Omaga, Esq, a Principal Partner at Graylaw Solicitors, argued that on no account should the Ninth National Assembly under the watch of Lawan and Gbajabiamila “be used to sanction the illegality committed by the President of Nigeria, which is clearly not in the interest of the Niger Delta people.”
The letter dated December 22, 2020 and entitled: “Protest against the spending of N453.2billlion being approved 2020 budget for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by Effiong Okon Akwa, as Sole Administrator” :
“We submit on behalf of our client that the decision by Mr. President to appoint Effiong Okon Akwa as Sole Administrator to ‘oversee the ongoing forensic audit of the Commission to its completion’ is alien, illegal, void and seriously offends the fine provisions of Sections 2, 3 and 4 of the NDDC (Establishment) Act, 2000.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that NDDC is a creation of law and cannot be operated based on the whims and caprices of President Muhammadu Buhari or any other person for that matter.
“That previous administrations allowed certain persons to act as Sole Administrators at different times while awaiting the confirmation of a Board does not make the process legal in any manner whatsoever.
“What had happened in the past is simply a bad precedence set out of ignorance or negligence of the law and must not be allowed to continue. After all, illegality twenty years ago remains illegality today and forever.”
Frank added that failure to heed his warning by the leadership of the National Assembly would leave him with no other option than to contest their action in a court of competent jurisdiction.
“Our client strongly believes that the illegal appointment of Effiong Okon Akwa as Sole Administrator of NDDC must fail when tested before a court of competent jurisdiction in the coming days.
“We therefore demand that your good offices should not for any reason authorize the spending of the approved N453.2 billion being 2020 Budget for NDDC or any part thereof by Effiong Okon Akwa for purposes of running the affairs of the Commission.
“Take notice that our client shall be seeking redress in court against your office in the unlikely event that his demand herein is not adhered to or treated with levity.
“Whilst exercising the option of litigation, our client will neither have recourse to your office nor take into consideration the damage that may be caused by his action. We do hope that wise counsel will prevail!” the letter added.