Court suspends Pondei-led NDDC board

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has restrained the interim management committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) from further performance of its functions.

The IMC was constituted by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio to manage the affairs of the Commission while the forensic audit lasted.

The court by its interim order restrained Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, Dr. Joi Nunieh and others from carrying out the functions of the Board of the NDDC.

The court further granted leave to the applicant, the Incorporated Trustees of Forum for Accountability and Good Governance (FAGG), to apply for judicial review for an order of mandamus compelling the Independent Corrupt Practice and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to investigate the Minister of the Niger Delta, Sen. Godswill Akpabio and the board over allegations of N3 billion contract fraud.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed also granted leave to the applicant to apply for judicial review of the power of the President or the Minister of the Niger Delta to appoint Prof. Pondei, Dr. Ojougboh and others in an interim capacity as members of the NDDC Board.

The orders were contained in an enrolled order of the court dated November 5, 2020.

By this order of the Court, the members of the NDDC Board are restrained from performing the functions of the Board, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice which is fixed for December 8.

Meanwhile, the applicant on Wednesday expressed worry that despite the restraining order, the defendants were in total disobedience of it and had been going to their offices and performing the functions of the Board of the Commission since this order was granted.

The plaintiff also prayed that the most senior civil servant or administrator in the Commission be appointed while the suspended officers be stopped from accessing the Commission’s offices and files.

It feared that accessing the offices and files could enable them tamper with evidence which could be used by the ICPC in its probe.

Parties joined in the suit are the Attorney General of the Federation, the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Honourable Minister of the Niger Delta, Prof Kemebradikumo Pondei, Dr Cairo Ojougboh, Dr Joi Nunieh, Mrs Caroline Nagbo, Cecilia Bukola Akintomide and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission.

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