Niger Delta may boil if Buhari doesn’t reconstitute NDDC Board – Falana

Femi-Falana

Femi Falana

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Niger Delta may boil if Buhari doesn’t reconstitute NDDC Board – Falana

Femi Falana writes that there may be trouble if President Buhari does not reconstitute NDDC Board

 

Mr Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, human rights activist and Interim Chair, Alliance on Surviving Covid 19 and Beyond (ASCAB), has warned that if President Muhammadu Buhari does not reconstitute a substantive Board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), there might be a breach of security in the oil-producing region of Nigeria.

As he put it. “With the plan to appoint another Interim Administrator or extend the illegal tenure of the incumbent several groups have threatened to embark on mass actions that may cause a breach of peace in the Niger Delta region. It is hoped that the Federal Government will urgently douse the growing tension in the area by reconstituting the Board of the NDDC without any further delay.  We also call on the Federal Government to release the report of the forensic audit of the NDDC and White Paper on the recommendations of the Audit Firm.”

The reason that the Federal Government has, over time, been appointing Interim Administrators is that there was a forensic audit of the books of the commission. But Falana wondered why the Federal Government had not issued a white paper on the audit report. Worse still, the Nigerian government is planning to appoint new Interim Administrators for NDDC.

Below is Falana’s submission:

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The threat of Security Breach in Niger Delta Over Refusal of President Buhari to Reconstitute NDDC Board

 

The Buhari administration has adduced some contradictory reasons to justify the illegal appointment of Interim Administrators to run the affairs of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in utter contravention of the provisions of the Niger-Delta Development Commission (Establishment etc) Act, 2000, No. 6, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria. Whereas the enabling law provides for the constitution of a Board made up of the representatives of the oil-producing states in Nigeria the President has been appointing Interim Administrators to manage the NDDC. The action of the Buhari administration is illegal, discriminatory and sectional on the ground that while the Board of the NDDC is not reconstituted the members of the North-East Development Commission (NEDC) were appointed by President Buhari, confirmed by the Senate and inaugurated on May 8, 2019.

The initial reason for not reconstituting the Board of the NDDC was that the accounts of the agency had been subjected to forensic auditing due to allegations of corruption and gross mismanagement of public funds earmarked for the development of the oil-producing communities in the Niger Delta region. Even though the report of the forensic audit was submitted to President Buhari over 10 months ago the Federal Government has not deemed it fit to issue a White Paper on it. As if that is not enough, the President has continued to appoint Interim Administrators to manage the NDDC without any legal justification. Such appointment or renewal of same constitutes a violent violation of the valid and subsisting order of the Bayelsa Judicial Division of the Federal High Court which has restrained President Buhari from further appointing Interim Administrators to manage the NDDC.

With the plan to appoint another Interim Administrator or extend the illegal tenure of the incumbent several groups have threatened to embark on mass actions that may cause a breach of peace in the Niger Delta region. It is hoped that the Federal Government will urgently douse the growing tension in the area by reconstituting the Board of the NDDC without any further delay.  We also call on the Federal Government to release the report of the forensic audit of the NDDC and a White Paper on the recommendations of the Audit Firm. In particular, the contractors that have been indicted by the Audit Firm for abandoning projects in the oil-producing communities should be summoned and directed to complete them while those who engaged in the criminal diversion of the fund budgeted for the development of the Niger Delta region should be prosecuted and made to refund the looted fund.

However, if the Federal Government does not put an end to the impunity it is undoubtedly clear that the appointment of the Interim Administrators and the actions taken by them including the award of contracts are liable to be set aside by the Federal High Court, sooner or later.  At the appropriate time, the NDDC will be made to pay general and aggravated damages for the wanton impunity of the Federal Government over the refusal to reconstitute the Board of the NDDC.

Femi Falana SAN,

Interim Chair,

Alliance on Surviving Covid 19 and Beyond (ASCAB).

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