By Ed Malik, A | October 14, 2022
Prominent civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), on Friday, cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari against the appointment of another interim administrator for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Besides, HURIWA has faulted the illegal transfer of the supervisory purview of the NDDC illegally to the minister of Niger Delta Affairs which directly violates the enabling Act that set up the commission and has therefore, asked that President supervises the Commission, for now, else; they might go to court for appropriate interpretation of the law setting up NDDC.
Furthermore, the HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko expressed consternation that the Forensic Audit Report on NDDC and the White Paper of that Report are yet to see the light of the day, which may signify a lack of seriousness about the operations of the NDDC since the inception of the current administration, said the Group.
HURIWA is asking Mr. President thus-: “Why the delay in the implementation of the recommendations of the Report?
This seeming inaction on the Report may not be unconnected with the alleged underhand suppression by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs. This negligence and administrative bottlenecks must be dismantled, claimed HURIWA.
HURIWA, in a statement, said that the proposed idea to appoint another interim administrator is a nullity and there is a need to arrest the illegality promptly, noting that all the actions relating to the NDDC made by the Minister if Niger Delta Affairs is null and void because the law states clearly that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is the direct supervisor of the Niger Delta Development Commission hence all letters authored by the minister remain absolute and irredeemable illegality.
The group maintained that the President is fundamentally the direct supervisor and no one else but the President or Presidency, adding that the concept of interim administrator-ship has been a channel that supports and promotes unfathomable sleaze and corrupt practices.
According to reports, stakeholders in the Niger Delta region raised the alarm over alleged plot by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Umana Okon Umana, to appoint another interim administrator to oversee the affairs of the NDDC.
The stakeholder, under the umbrella of the Centre for Fairness and Accountability (CEFA), claimed the minister, in conjunction with enemies of the region, is spearheading the move to undermine the relative peaceful coexistence in the region.
Reacting, HURIWA’s Boss said that, “Section 7 subsection 3 of the NDDC Act is specifically unambiguous and certain that the President, commander in chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is to have direct supervision of NDDC. But since 2016, this President abdicated that statutory duty and left it in the hands of minister of Niger Delta affairs which is unknown to the extant NDDC Act. HURIWA said it is serving a strong notice to Mr. President to stop this statutory breach with immediate effect or be challenged legally in the competent court of law to obtain a mandate to compel total compliance to the law.
“We want to ask President Muhammadu Buhari to adhere to that law or be sued within stipulated pre-litigation notice period to get the Federal High Court to grant us a mandamus to compel compliance. Already our team of legal practitioners are putting finishing touches to our litigation should the illegality be left unchecked with immediate effect.
“The abandonment of NDDC by President Muhammadu Buhari is the reason for the cacophony of corruption in NDDC and he may have done it because it is an institution that ought to benefit the Niger Delta oil producing zone so he is treating that key interventionist agency anyhow by allowing a minister unknown to the extant NDDC ACT to handpick interim administrators when the law said supervision must be by the President.
“One is curious to ask why the North-East Development Commission that came up just two years back is not under the supervisory purview of any minister and so why is NDDC that is far older been treated like an abandon project in clear breach of an extant law.
“The President must sit up to his responsibility and oversee the NDDC correctly and provide leadership as he ought to.” By this notice, HURIWA hereby ask President Muhammadu Buhari to seize and desist from violating the NDDC ACT within 74 hours or we file an application to the Federal High Court to compels compliance once the statutory pre-litigation notice is observed.