By Nkechi Okpokoro.
THE Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Godswill Akpabio, have both asked a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to dismiss a suit by two Niger Delta activists, demanding the sack of the NDDC Interim Management Committee, IMC. The plaintiffs, Akhareme Lucky, Edward Brisibe and two others in the suit, are praying the court to sack the IMC members, all of whom are 4th-8th defendants and restrain Akpabio, from recognising the IMC pending the hearing of the substantive suit, questioning the legality of the IMC in accordance with the NDDC Act, which is currently before the same court,
The NDDC is also questioning the indigenous status of the plaintiffs, both of whom have responded, backing themselves with their constitutional obligations to uphold the rule of law. Counsel to NDDC, its IMC members and Chief Akpabio, Alex Ejesieme, SAN and Isyaku Saleh in their respective preliminary objections, argued that the plaintiffs lack the locus standi to institute and maintain the suit, adding that the court lacks the requisite jurisdiction to hear the matter.
Presenting its issues for determination, the IMC described the suit by the plaintiffs as an invitation to trample on the sacred principle of separation of power, adding that the suit is simply targeted at encouraging the court to usurp the executive powers of President Mohammed Buhari to appoint an interim management board. He said: “We, therefore, urge your lordships to completely discountenance the plaintiff’s contention in this regard and resolve the lone issue for determination in favour of the defendant and against the plaintiffs. We urge your lordship to reject that invitation and accordingly dismiss this suit.” Akpabio on his part through his counsel, described the case of the plaintiffs as hypothetical, speculative and academic, adding that “they lack the locus standi to maintain the suit for failing to demonstrate any direct legal benefit to them and urged the court to so hold and resolve the preliminary objection in favour of the 2nd defendant.” Trial judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo adjourned the case to July 22, 2020, for further hearing.