Judiciary News

NDDC Board: Court Set Aside Rita Lori’s Suit Against Buhari, FG

An Abuja Federal High Court has dismissed a suit filed by rights advocate, Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor against President Muhammadu Buhari, Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami SAN and Senate President, Ahmad Lawal.

The defendants in the suit are Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, GodswillAkpabio, and Clerk of the National Assembly.

In the suit filed in August 2021, the plaintiff is seeking an order of court restraining President Muhammadu Buhari; the AGF, and Senate President from inaugurating a new board for Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, pending the release of the findings of the forensic audit of the agency.

The trial judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo while delivering the judgement on Thursday held that Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor lacked the locus standi (legal right) to institute the action.Meanwhile, Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor, shortly after the judgement, told Judiciary Correspondents that she is heading straightaway to the Court of Appeal to seek redress.

The Plaintiff insisted that for the court to tell her that she lacked the right to defend her people, the Itshekiri nation, amounts to marginalization.

By the suit, the plaintiff is also asking the court to stop the defendants from raising a new board for the commission except the forensic audit report is made public.

Chief Ogbebor is equally seeking to restrain President Buhari from constituting or reconstituting the board for NDDC or appointing anybody or person into board pending the completion of the forensic audit ordered by him (Buhari) and a receipt of the said report from Akpabio.

“An order of this court restraining the President from acting on any advice with regard to constituting the NDDC board without receiving a copy of the audited forensic report and thereafter immediately issuing a White Paper on same.

“An order restraining the Senate President from receiving a nomination from President Buhari with a view to screening and confirming the appointment of any person or persons as board members of the NDDC pending the completion and presentation of the audit (report) ordered by him (Buhari).

“An order restraining Akpabio, by himself or anybody, whosoever acts through him, from interfering with the conduct of the forensic audit in a manner inconsistent with the order of the President.”

In addition, the plaintiff is praying the court to determine whether, by the provisions of the NDDC Act 2017, President Buhari can exercise his powers, control and supervision over the NDDC by issuing a directive ordering a forensic audit of the activities of the NDDC from 2001 to 2019 and whether the president is bound to receive the report of the forensic audit and act on same before taking any further steps in constituting or reconstituting the board for the NDDC.

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