Four Akwa Ibom-based legal practitioners have filed a legal action against President Muhammadu Buhari at the Federal High Court, Uyo
over non appointment of an indigene of Akwa Ibom as Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The four lawyers, who are chairmen of Uyo, Ikot Ekpene, Eket and Oron branches of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), are Aniekan Akpan, Essien Obong, Akpadiaha Ebitu and Emmanuel Ukor respectively.
Joined as respondents in the suit are the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami and the acting managing director of NDDC, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari.
The immediate past managing director of NDDC, Dan Abia, an indigene of Akwa Ibom, was sacked midway into his four year tenure on December 21, 2015, and Semenitari, an indigene of Rivers State was appointed in acting capacity.
Citing relevant sections of the NDDC Act, the plaintiffs, in the suit marked as FHC/UY/CS/27/16, are seeking declaration of the court “that the premature termination of the appointment of Abia as managing director, NDDC by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria before the four year-tenure allocated to Akwa Ibom State ends is illegal, unlawful and a gross violation of the rights of people of Akwa Ibom”.
The NBA chairmen are also asking the court to declare that Semenetari’s appointment “is illegal, unlawful and a gross violation of the right of Akwa Ibom people particularly lawyers of Akwa Ibom origin and equally a violation of the principles of proportional sharing of bureaucratic office as enshrined in the Federal Character Commission Act Cap F7 Law Of the Federation Of Nigeria 2004.”
The bar leaders also want the court to declare that Akwa Ibom “is the legitimate state statutorily entitled to produce an “acting” or ‘substantive’ managing director of NDDC presently to continue and complete the four year-tenure of office allocated” to the state by the rotation arrangement as enshrined in Sections 3 and 12(1)(d) of the NDDC Act.
While asking for mandatory injunction from the court to compel the President to terminate Semenitari’s appointment, they sought an order of the court compelling the President to immediately appoint any Akwa Ibom State indigene as acting managing director or alternatively, to appoint any Akwa Ibom State indigene as managing director of NDDC and present him to the National Assembly for confirmation to continue and complete the four year-tenure of office allocated to Akwa Ibom”.