By Haruna Joseph/:
A Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday rejected a suit querying the legitimacy of the Interim Management Committee, IMC constituted for the Niger-Delta Development Commission, NDDC.
In a judgment, Justice Inyang Ekwo held that the plaintiffs lacked the locus standi (the right to approach the court) to challenge any perceived infraction of the provisions of the NDDC Act.
The judgment was in a suit, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/404/2020 filed by Comrade Itoldem Daghware, Bishop Chuck Johnson, Mr. Akinterinwa Julius and the Registered Trustees of Niger Delta Youth Forum (for themselves as elders of oil producing communities of Ilaje, Umuorji, Ojahiegbema) and Uhrobo in the Niger-Delta region.
Listed as defendants in the suit were the Attorney General of the Federation, the National Assembly, the Minister for Nigr Delta Affairs, NDDC, Prof K. David Pondei, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, Mr. Ibanga Bassey Etang, Mrs. Caroline Nagbo and Mrs. Cecillia Bukola Akintomide.
The plaintiffs had, among others, prayed the court to declare as illegal and a violation of sections 7(3), 9, 10 and 12 of the NDDC Act, the President’s appointment of an interim management committee to manage the commission’s affairs.
In the judgment on Wednesday, Justice Ekwo upheld the defendants’ objection to the suit, to the effect that the plaintiffs could not query any perceived infraction of the NDDC Act.
The judge said it was those listed in Section 2(1) of the NDDC Act, who could be considered as stakeholders and could be directly affected by any infraction of the Act by any appointing authority that can challenge any perceived violation of the law.
The judge said since the plaintiffs did not fall into the category of those considered as stakeholders of the NDDC, they could not sue to challenge any alleged infraction of the NDDC Act.
“If there is any breach or infraction of the provisions of the NDDC Act, it is the stakeholders or any of them specifically mentioned in Section 2 (1) thereof that is clothed with locus standi to take an action.
“Going by the grouse of the plaintiffs, as stated in the sole question for determination, I do not see any lacuna in the NDDC Act that would enable any person not mentioned in Section 2 (1)(b) thereof to claim to be acting in the interest of either any person mentioned in the provision or not so mentioned.
“Let me put it more specifically for the purpose of clarity. It is my opinion that the effect of the provisions of S. 2 (1) (b) of the NDDC Act is that there can be no action by proxy for them.
“They are the mentioned stakeholders of the law. Therefore, if the persons mentioned in Section 2 (1) (b) of the NDDC Act refuse, neglect or fail to act where there is allegation of infractions of the provisions of the Act, it means they do not consider the alleged act as infraction.
“I find that the first to third plaintiffs, not being persons mentioned in Section 2 (1) (b) of the NDDC Act, cannot institute an action in court on any matter concerning or pertaining to the appointment of Managing Director, Executive Directors and members of the Management Board of the NDDC.
“In other words, they lack the locus stand to institute this suit. They should rather hold those who have the locus standi to act but have not done so responsible.
“On the whole, I resolve the issue of locus standi against the plaintiffs,” the judge said and proceeded to strike out the suit.