South-south Governors Seek Substantive Board For NDDC
President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to inaugurate a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to enable it to effectively discharge its responsibilities. The appeal came from the six governors of the South-south geopolitical zone.
The governors under the South-south Governors Forum rose from their meeting in Government House Asaba, Delta State on Monday night and decried the ongoing management structure of NDDC saying it was shortchanging the region and lacked due process.
The governors, therefore, advised Buhari that in the absence of a substantive board for the commission, funds for the NDDC beyond the payment of salaries should be put in an escrow account.
But Akpabio, who spoke at a press conference to herald the formal inauguration of the new headquarters of the NDDC in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, said most of the governors in the zone were running their local government areas with caretaker committees and lacked the moral rectitude to task Buhari on the NDDC.
Akpabio said the governors should first conduct local government elections before insisting that the president should inaugurate the board of the commission.
In a statement by the Special Assistant on Media to the Governor of Rivers State, Kelvin Ebiri, he said the Chairman of the South-south Governors Forum and Governor of Delta State , Ifeanyi Okowa read the common position of the governors at the end of the forum’s meeting.
Okowa described as worrisome the running of the NDDC in over a year by an Interim Caretaker Committee, and now, an interim administrator.
He said: “This situation does not augur well for the people of the Niger Delta as an opportunity for all states to be represented as they ought to be represented on the board of the NDDC does not exist.
“So, it means that the NDDC is actually run in such a manner that it is actually not truly beneficial to our people, because there is no stakeholders input in the running of the affairs of the NDDC.
“We do know that there is a forensic audit taking place and if that is the reason the board has not been constituted, our advice is that monies being sent to the NDDC should be put in an escrow account until a board is constituted and then proper processes are followed in the expenditure of the money in a such a way it will be visibly accountable in the best interest of the peoples of the Niger Delta.”
The governors said after the constitution of the board, the advisory council must be called upon to play its role and ensure checks and balances to guarantee value for money expended by the NDDC.
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They said: “A situation where we begin to have emergency projects that possibly will not last three to six months is not right, we don’t feel happy about it and we are urging Mr. President to ensure that if the board is not going to be immediately constituted, then funds for the NDDC beyond the payment of salaries should be put on hold until he constitutes the board and the board can now run the finances of the NDDC as per the law creating the NDDC.
“We feel already short- changed as a people in the Niger Delta and we believe that we do not wish to see this kind of situation continue going forward into the future, because our people feel the pains, we do not want a situation where there is an abuse of processes, neither should we have a situation where we have abuse of funds.
“We believe that it is best for both the country, for the states of the Niger Delta and for the people of the Niger Delta when the due process is followed by the reconstitution of the board and also in reconstituting the board, that the reconstituted funds should come in and have funds to spend as per the law.”
Further reacting, Akpabio said despite the fact that the governors were running their local government areas with caretaker committees, the federal government had never denied them funds.
He said it was abnormal for governors, who belonged to an opposition party to be giving directives to the president in a ruling party.
He said the governors were the ones, who demanded a forensic audit and should be patient to allow the conclusion of the audit before the inauguration of a board.
While saying that the audit would soon be concluded, Akpabio noted that he was not against the constitution of a board but that due process required an end to the audit before it would be put in place.
Akpabio wondered why the governors were asking of a board when such a structure managed the NDDC for 19 years without building a permanent headquarters for the commission.
He said what the ongoing management structure of the NDDC had achieved for a year, boards of 19 years could not accomplish them.
He said: “I am not aware that the governors are the ones that give directives to the president. I want to let you know that the federal government has appealed to the governors to ensure that local governments have elected representatives.
“Some governors for eight years used caretaker committees to run local government and federal government did not deny them funds. So, we are not against the formation of board for NDDC.
“But if in 19 years, an NDDC board as you call it could not produce an edifice of this nature, could not even use N150m to connect the rented office to the national grid, that will tell you that sometimes the constitution of boards have misplaced priorities.
“We are saying that there is going to be a board for the NDDC. Nobody is against the board but let us finish with the forensic audit. Boards have various interests. If I am a contractor and I nominate someone into the board, don’t you think that person will not cooperate with the forensic auditors?
“In a few months, the forensic audit will be over and the board will definitely be inaugurated. I will rather plead with the governors to ensure that they carry out local government elections. Most of the South-south states are PDP. So where is the opposition?
“How can the opposition give instructions and directives to the president who is not in the same party with them and president has a clear vision of what he wants to do? What he is doing is producing results.
“If they were happy, look at the kind of quantum leap in infrastructure across the entire country. It is not going to be easy for them to take power because of the performance of this president. So the only thing they can do is to bring all these kinds of request.
“We agree with them and we are on the same page. The south-south governors are the ones who even requested a forensic audit. Because there was no budget the forensic audit was delayed. So, my appeal is to allow the audit to end and then the board will be inaugurated.
“The board will be run by the Niger Delta people. Even the interim administrator is Niger Deltan and most of the directors are from the region and I think for now they are doing a great job. They are all qualified. If they are working and producing results let them continue to support them till the end of the audit.
“Very soon the audit will be concluded and from Monday, the auditors will be moving to the field to start measurements of abandoned projects. Soon, there will be a board.”
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NLC Orders Workers To Shut CBN Offices Nationwide Over Naira Scarcity
Worried about the continued scarcity of naira, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has officially declared a nationwide . The national president of the union, Joe Ajaero, gave the directive during a media briefing in Abuja.
Ajaero also directed that affiliate unions constituting the NLC should be on standby for picketing exercises across all branches of the Central Bank of Nigeria nationwide.
The NLC earlier issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to end the petrol and cash scarcity being experienced in the country.
Ajaero told journalists on Wednesday that the industrial action became the last resort of the NLC following the expiration of the ultimatum.
He said the decision to picket the CBN branches became necessary as the federal government and the CBN had failed to show any commitment to addressing the situation.
Ajaero lamented that despite the Supreme Court order that the old N200, N500 and N1000 notes remain legal tender until December 31, 2023, the situation kept getting worse.
He said workers could not access cash to pay fares to work.
He also criticised the pricing irregularities in the petroleum sector.
“Last week, we gave an ultimatum for the review of the cash crunch bedevilling the country, but we have discovered to our dismay that as at this moment not much effort has been made to ameliorate the situation. Government is still foot-dragging on these issues we raised,” Ajaero said.
“Based on this, we met again this morning to review our position and resolved that by Wednesday next week all CBN branches will be picketed. Workers are directed to stay at home too because people cannot eat, workers can no longer go to the office, we have been pushed to the wall.
“We have decided to take our destiny in our hands, we have mobilised our workers on this exercise.”
The NLC has no fewer than 43 affiliate unions which include, but not limited to, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, and the National Union of Road Transport Workers.
BREAKING: Alex Otti Of Labour Party Emerges Abia Governor-elect
Alex Otti of the Labour Party has emerged the winner of Abia State governorship election.
This followed the eventual declaration, on Wednesday, of the results of the controversial Obingwa Local Government Area results.
With the conclusion of the collation of the outstanding results of the election, the Peoples Democratic Party scored 9,962 votes while the Labour Party, 3,776 votes in the LGA.
Consequently, the LP has won in 10 LGAs, the PDP in six LGAs, and the Young Peoples Party in one LGA.
The governorship candidate of the Labour Party in Abia State, Chief Alex Otti, was, consequently declared the winner of the 2023 governorship election in Abia State.
Otti polled a total of 175,466 to defeat his closest rival and candidate of the PDP who scored 88,526.
The Returning Officer, Prof. Nnenna Oti, declared the LP candidate the winner at the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Umuahia, the state capital, Wednesday afternoon after completing the suspended collation of results.
CAN, Churches Defeat Govt Over CAMA Act
It was victory for the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and churches under it as a Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday, stopped the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) from suspending or appointing their trustees.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a judgment, held that the provisions of Sections 17 (1), 839 (1) and (7) (a), 842 (1) and (2), 851 and 854 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), 2020 and Regulations 28, 29 and 30 of the Companies Regulations (CR), 2021 were not applicable to CAN and the churches, including mosques, as a religious body.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Registered Trustees of CAN, in the originating summons marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/84/2022 field by Joe Gadzama, SAN, had sued the CAC and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment as 1st and 2nd defendants respectively.
The plaintiff, in the suit, had posed five questions for determination.
CAN had asked the court to determine that whether Section 839, Subsections (1), (7) (a) and (10) of the CAMA, 2020 and regulations 28 – 30 of the CR, 2021 are inconsistent with Sections 4 (8), 6 (6) (b) and 40 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which guarantees the its right to freedom of association and the right to seek redress in court, among others.
It, therefore, sought 13 reliefs which include a declaration that Section 839 (1), (7) (a) and (10) of the CAMA and Sections 28 – 30 of the CR are inconsistent with |Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution, and thus unconstitutional, null and void.
“An order striking down Sections 839(1), (7) (a) and (10), 842(1) and (2), 843, 851 and 854 of the CAMA for being unconstitutional.
“A declaration that Section 17(2) (a) and (d) of the CAMA demand an impossible and impracticable action; thus, void and for being impracticable and unknown to Law.”
CAN also prayed for an order of perpetual injunction restraining and barring the defendants from taking any step to give effect to the provisions of Sections 17(2) (a) and (d), 839(1), 842(1) and (2), 842(1) and (2), 842, 843, 851 and 854 of the CAMA against it as mentioned in Article 4 of its constitution, to prevent further contravention of the provisions of Sections 4(8), 6(6)(b), 251(1)(e) and 251(3) of the 1999 Constitution.
It argued if CAC was allowed to suspend its trustees and appoint interim managers to manage its affairs, it would be usurping its powers under the constitution and the powers of the standing committee and the plenary session which would not be in line with the constitution.
Delivering the judgment, Justice Ekwo said that the CAC did not controvert the averment of CAN that it was constituted by the churches.
“It is settled law that averments without contradicting evidence or averments are deemed admitted.
“There is a need at this point to define what a church is in order to see how applicable the provisions of the CAMA 2020 can be applicable to it,” he said.
Citing a previous case, the judge said “a church in its true definition is the body of Christ. One person cannot constitute the body of Christ; it connotes a congregation, an assembly of people. An individual cannot own a church. A church property must be the collective responsibility of all the members.”
He said the summary of the above was that “the church is an ecclesiastical being.
“Each church is characterised by its distinct dogma or creed and same for each congregation and denomination that constitute the church.
“It is on this ground that it is impossible for one church to be administered by another church and the church being what it is for the soul of man, the doctrinal distinctness and difference must be respected by the authorities within and without.
“This being so, it is then impracticable for the church or a denomination thereof to be administered by secular arrangement such as interim manager or managers stated in
Section 839 of the CAMA 2020 or any other arrangement put in place by the CAMA which does not take into account the doctrinal composition of the church.
“It is also my opinion that to suspend the trustees and appoint an interim manager or managers to manage the affairs of the church will conflict with the sacerdotal order of its divine administration and desecrate same.”
Justice Ekwo, who observed that the Minister of Trade (2nd defendant) neither filed any application nor represented in court despite being served by the plaintiff, held that the effect of the failure of a defendant to file pleadings is that the assertions of the claimant stands unchallenged and are deemed admitted and established.
According to him, therefore, the case of the plaintiff succeeds on the merit.
The judge, consequently, made a seven declarations, which include a declaration that Section 839 (1), (7) (a) and (10) of the CAMA 2020 and Regulations 28, 29 and 30 of the CR , 2021 are not applicable to religious organisation as CAN and the churches as they violated the right to worship guaranteed by Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
He also made an order of perpetual Injunction, “restraining the defendants from taking any step to give effect to or implementing and/or continuing with any act to implement the provisions of Sections 839 (1), 842 (1) and (2), 842, 843, 851 and 854 of the CAMA 2020.
Justice Ekwo, however, did not make the generic order striking down the sections of the CAMA 2020 as prayed by the plaintiff.
He said such an order would affect other bodies and organisations registered under Part F of the Act.
“These provisions are applicable in respect of the administration, supervision and regulation of other bodies like company, limited liability partnership, business name or incorporated trustee registered for other purposes stated in Section 823 (1) of the CAMA 2020.
“The court is also unable to strike down the provision of Section 17 (2) (a) and (d) of the CAMA 2020 which provides for mandatory pre-action notice to the 1st defendant, as prayed, as the practicability of compliance with such provision depends on the circumstance of each case thereby affected,” he said.
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