Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, has vowed that a suit by human rights advocate, Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor, against President Muhammadu Buhari on the composition of Board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) would be dispensed within three months.
Others sued alongside President Buhari are Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami SAN; Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio; and Clerk of the National Assembly.
In the suit filed in August 2021, the plaintiff is seeking an order of court restraining Buhari, the AGF and the Senate President from inaugurating a new board for NDDC, pending the release of the findings of the forensic audit of the agency.
When the matter came up on Wednesday, the plaintiff’s lawyer was absent in court as well as other counsels to the defendants except for Moses Gana, who announced an appearance for the 2nd defendant (AGF).
Chief Rita Lori Ogbebor, a businesswoman and hotelier, who was physically present in court told the judge that she came to seek justice.
However, Justice Ekwo told the plaintiff that her lawyer was not in court.
“Madam, your lawyer is not in court today. Tell your lawyer to come to court.
“I am finishing this matter within three months. Tell your lawyer to come to court.
“This matter has been adjourned to May 26 for hearing.
“Hearing notice to be served on all the defendants,” the judge directed.
The plaintiff wants the court to stop the defendants from raising a new board for the commission except the forensic audit report is made public.
In addition, Ogbebor is seeking to restrain Buhari from constituting or reconstituting the board for NDDC or appointing anybody or person into the 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.