The President of Niger Delta Sustainability Project, Comrade Ebitimi Eselebor, has backed the statement of Mr Femi Falana on NDDC interim Management Committee,
In a statement Eselebor said, He is satisfaction with the honourable and enlightened position taken by Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Mr Femi Falana on the continuation of the illegal Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) where he stated in plain terms that the committee is illegal and, by implication, its actions can be challenged in any court of law.
Mr Falana’s position, which was made at an event to celebrate the 3rd Year Anniversary of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State recently, is one that we pointed out after the illegal Interim Management Committee was constituted by Chief Godswill Akpabio in October 2019. Several other groups too and lawyers have made that same position that the IMC is illegal and its acts cannot be defended in any court of law. We note specifically the words of the learned senior advocate where he said unequivocally that: “Anybody can go to court and say that some of those who took part in the meetings are not known to law and so, do something. NDDC, this concerns Ondo State. There shall be 19 members of the Board of NDDC, one of them shall come from the state, but what has happened, sir? The Ninth Senate screened and when it was time for the President to inaugurate them he decided to jettison the Board and appointed an interim committee. I am submitting here that there is no provision in the NDDC Act for an interim committee. The Senate surprised all of us when it decided to pass the budget of NDDC after the embarrassing appointment of the committee.”
The import of Falana’s comments is that decisions made by the interim management committee or any directives to be implemented under the guidance of this committee are open to litigation by affected parties. We have stated previously at different fora that the appointment of the IMC is a negation of the NDDC Act which states clearly that it will be governed by a board of directors with representatives from the nine oil-producing states, and the three non-oil producing geopolitical zones, among others. Sadly, the government has used the ruse of an audit to subvert the law and manage the NDDC like a one-man establishment without the benefit of proper Board control and oversight by the National Assembly. Now, even the outcomes of the forensic audit may be questioned since it is to work under the supervision of the IMC.
It is now imperative that the National Assembly should reassert itself and ensure that a Board is appointed immediately for the NDDC, in line with the Act setting up the agency, so that the actions being undertaken now under the supervision of the interim management committee do not end up a waste of resources.
It is apparent that continuing with the interim management committee is a gross violation of the law and a danger to the noble objectives of the forensic audit itself and so we call on President Buhari to promptly disband the committee and inaugurate a Board for a proper management of the audit and the established mandate of the NDDC and to make sure that the forensic audit and the affairs of the NDDC are legally conducted because it will be a great disservice to Nigerians, and the Niger Delta people particularly if the resources being spent on the audit end up a nullity.
Comrade Ebitimi Eselebor