Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court in Warri, Delta State has adjourned to January 19, 2023 a suit filed by representatives of oil and gas producing communities of Itsekiri in Delta State seeking to restrain the board of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, from accessing funds of the commission pending determination of legal issues around composition of the board.
The judge further ordered that the defendants be served the processes to be heard, adding that the suit was adjourned to January 19 for Motion on Notice.
The Itsekiri communities in suit number FHC/WR/CS/131/2022, Prince Emmanuel Okotie-Eboh and 4ORS vs the President Federal Republic of Nigeria and seven others contended that the screening and inauguration of the board without addressing critical observations raised in several petitions by Itsekiri was an aberration.
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According to their counsel, Jolone Ikomi, Chief Robinson Ariyo and Brenda Modupe Alabi, “the combined reading of the provisions of sections 2, 5 (2) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (establishment, etc.) Act Cap N86 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria; section 14 (1), (2) & (3); paragraphs 7 & 8 (1) (a), (b) & (2) of the third schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) can only lead to one conclusion: the constitution of the NDDC Board was unconstitutional, illegal, null and void and should be set aside.”
An originating summons dated and filed on December 29, 2022 raised the following for determination by the court.
“Whether Madam Lauretta Ifeanyi Onochie, the 8th defendant qualifies as an indigene of an oil-producing area.
“Whether quantum of oil production/contribution is not a mandatory qualification for determining priority of appointment into the NDDC Board.
“Whether it is not mandatory that a person to be nominated to fill the slot of Delta State as either the Chairman or Managing Director or the Delta State representative on the Governing Board of the Niger-Delta Development Commission must be an indigene of an oil producing community in the circumstances.