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Court Stops Onochie plot to set confusion in NDDC over false executive powers claim

-Says she has no executive powers to exercise in NDDC

. Sacks her18 aides, Pointed out her function as part-time Chairman

By Our Correspondent

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, thereby stopping her plot to set confusion in NDDC over false executive powers claim.

Ms. Lauretta Onochie

 The judgment was delivered on Tuesday May 9, but the certified true copy, which was obtained, yesterday, was signed by the Court Registrar, Anigboro Enonuya.

The court held that Onochie acted outside her powers in appointing the aides, and consequently barred her from interfering with functions of the commission’s Managing Director, Chief (Dr.)  Samuel Ogbuku.

Meet Dr. Samuel Ogbuku, the Managing Director of NDDC
Chief (Dr.)  Samuel Ogbuku,MD/CEO NDDC

 The suit was filed by Dr. Mike Oberabor, for himself and on behalf of the Oberabor Oreme-Egbede families of the Olomoro Community of Isoko South Council, Delta State, while the NDDC, Onochie and Ogbuku are the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants.

The plaintiff sought interpretation of the NDDC Act 2000, following some actions by Onochie believed to be against the Act.

Delivering judgment in the suit marked FHC/WR/CS/14/2023, the judge held that after due consideration of the relevant provisions of the NDDC Act, 2000 and the circular issued by office of the Accountant General of the Federation, dated January 16, Justice Abang said that 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 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, as well as circulars released by the Federal Government on the subject matter of the plaintiff’s claims.

Abang held: “The 3rd defendant, as Managing Director of the agency, is the person statutorily empowered by the NDDC Act to perform and wield executive functions, powers and day-to-day running, as well as management of the commission to the exclusion of other members of the board of the agency, including the 2nd defendant (the chairman).”

The judge noted that all actions of the 2nd defendant, including, but not limited to 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 in violation of her powers and, therefore, null and void.

He added: “The 2nd defendant is, therefore, restrained from carrying out/and or exercising any executive functions in the agency.”

The court also awarded a cost of N100,000 against the board chairman, payable to the plaintiff.

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