*Wants Commission’s IMC declared illegal
*Says Imo, Abia not represented
A retired United States Army Captain and rights activist, Bish Johnson, has dragged the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio to court, over corruption allegations at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and what he described as systemic discrimination against the Igbos in the constitution of the interim management committee by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Also joined in the suit with number FHC/ABJ/CS/404/2020 sighted on Thursday and stamped March 19, 2020, are the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), the National Assembly, NDDC and the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Commission.
Johnson in the suit, stated that the 2000 establishment act of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) provided for a representative each from the nine Niger delta states of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers.
According to the Niger Delta Youths Forum (NDYF) activist and Security Analyst, instead of constituting and inaugurating a board with representation from all nine Niger Delta States in accordance with the provisions of the 2000 NDDC establishment act, President either intentionally or unintentionally in collaboration with Akpabio decided to set up an IMC with members drawn from other states while ensuring that Imo and Abia States, the only two Igbo states from the Southeast zone of the country were strategically excluded from representation.
Part of the statement reads: “Groups in the Niger Delta, legal authorities and other stakeholders in the Niger Delta and around the country have questioned the rationale in the president not constituting and inaugurating a new NDDC board instead of an Interim body which no one knows how long it will be interim. He attributed the action to a well calculated design to compromise the forensic audit by the minister of the Niger Delta Affairs who himself has been a major player in the commission over the last 19 years since it was established. As Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio nominated a chairman, a managing director and several state representatives to the NDDC board between 2007 and 2015, and influenced others too. Given that the commission has been a cash cow for most of the governors including Godswill Akpabio through his nominees, he wonders what transparency he, Akpabio can bring to the Commission.
“In the end however, the buck stops on President Muhammadu Buhari’s desk he said. He, the president can decide to bury his head in the sand, while Akpabio plays Russian roulette with his name, as he has been doing since he was appointed the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, peddling the Buhari name to justify his assault on the law and due process or take action by dissolving the Interim Management Committee with immediate effect. While the president thither, the people of the Niger Delta and Nigeria are paying attention to the drama unfolding before them in the NDDC where the law is being trampled on with reckless disregard by the minister.”
“For his legacy, which should be on due process and the rule of law, President Buhari should as a matter of urgency take back the NDDC from Akpabio, constitute and inaugurate a new NDDC board. It is needless to state here that you cannot build something on nothing, the same way you cannot build a proper organisation on an illegal management. It is a lesson the battle on corruption and abuse of due process has exposed over the last few years. And of all persons, for someone committed to due process and transparency, President Buhari cannot ignore the facts. He cannot, and should not, allow the confusion in the NDDC and the disregard for due process is the defining attributes of his administration, let alone define his regard for the Niger Delta people.”
Johnson stressed the fact that his state of Imo was not considered for representation, he has been discriminated against and his right of equal representation violated.
To this end, he asked the court to declare the IMC of NDDC illegal and to compel the President Buhari to constitute and inaugurate a new board that ensures representation of all nine states of the Niger Delta in accordance with the 2000 NDDC establishment act.