The Federal High Court in Warri, Delta State, has sacked 18 aides appointed by the Chairperson of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Ms. Lauretta Onochie. It held that she acted outside her powers in appointing them. The court barred her from interfering with the functions of the commission’s Managing Director, Dr. Samuel Ogbuku.
The declaration was made in a suit by Dr. Mike Oberabor, for himself and on behalf of the Oberabor Oreme-Egbede families of the Olomoro community of Isoko South Local Government, Delta State.
The NDDC, Onochie and Ogbuku are the first, second and third defendants.
The plaintiff sought an interpretation of the NDDC Act 2000 following some actions by Onochie believed to be against the Act
A copy of the judgment, signed by the Court Registrar, Anigboro Enonuya, showed it was delivered by Justice Okon Abang.
Justice Abang said having considered the provisions of the NDDC Establishment Act 2000 and the circular issued by the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation dated January 16, Onochie is to oversee and preside over meetings of the board on a part-time basis.
The judge held that the managing director as the chief executive and accounting officer of the NDDC is saddled with the responsibility of the day-to-day running and management of the agency.
He held that Onochie’s unilateral decision to appoint 18 aides in her office and the demand for an executive office in the commission are in contravention of relevant provisions of the NDDC Act and the circulars released by the Federal Government on the subject matter of the plaintiff’s claims.
Justice Abang held: “The third defendant as Managing Director of the NDDC is the person statutorily empowered by the NDDC Act to perform and wield executive functions, powers and day-to-day running and management of the commission to the exclusion of other members of the board of the NDDC, including the second defendant (the chairman).”
“All actions of the second defendant, including but not limited to the appointment of her personal aides carried out in the exercise of executive functions and powers in the NDDC since her assumption of duty on January 4, 2023, are ultra vires her powers and therefore null and void and of no consequences whatsoever.
“The second defendant is restrained from carrying out/and or exercising any executive functions in the NDDC.
“The second defendant is further restrained from interfering with the third defendant’s (MD’s) executive functions, powers, day-to-day running and management of the NDDC.”
The court also awarded a cost of N100,000 against the board chairman, payable to the plaintiff.
The judgment was dated May 9, 2023, but the certified true copy of the same was obtained yesterday.