Justice Abang removes self from case against Buhari

Justice Abang has disqualified himself from a case against President Buhari – Incorporated Trustees of Oron Union brought a case against PMB regarding his nominations – The nominations of Mr Obong and Frank Samuel to the NDDC board led to the filing of the suit against President Muhammadu Buhari.

Justice Okon Abang of the Abuja federal high court, on Tuesday, August 23 disqualified himself from presiding over a suit accusing President Muhammadu Buhari of illegal nominations. The suit against Buhari accused him of breaching certain laws when he nominated persons not from oil producing regions, into the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). The law suit was filed before the court by a body known as Incorporated Trustees of Oron Union, Akwa Ibom state. The plaintiff said it was illegal for President Buhari to nominate Mr Obong Nsima Ekere and Frank Samuel George, as Managing Director and Commissioner, respectively, on the board of the NDDC since they were not indigenes of oil producing areas of Akwa Ibom state.

They said that the action was in violation of the NDDC Act, in the laws of the federation of Nigeria 2004. According to Vanguard, the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, the National Assembly and the two nominees were also defendants in the case.

The plaintiff appealed to the court for the following: “A declaration that the nominations of the 5th Defendant as the Managing Director of NDDC, and the 6th as Commissioner on the Board of the said NDDC, by the 1st and 2nd Defendants, and the subsequent forwarding of the names of the 5th and 6th Defendants to the 3rd and 4th Defendants for confirmation and for appointments as Managing Director and Commissioner respectively on the Board of NDDC when the said 5th and 6th Defendants are not indigenes of oil producing areas of Akwa Ibom State, are all done contrary to the provisions of section 12(1) of the NDDC Act, Cap N86, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, and therefore illegal, null and void and of no effect whatsoever and howsoever.” The Oron Union which covers five local government areas of Akwa Ibom also prayed the court to issue an order of perpetual injunction restraining the National Assembly from confirming the nominations.

However when the matter came up on Monday, August 22, all the defendants asked Justice Abang to remove himself from the case, due to conflict of interest, since he is also from Oron. The 6th defendant, George, who is also one of the nominees wrote a letter to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, asking that the case-file be retrieved from Justice Abang. Consequently, in a bench ruling, Justice Abang disqualified himself from the case and returned the case-file back to the Chief Judge for reassignment to another judge. He said: “Having regard to the fact that I am from Oron nation of Akwa Ibom State with the plaintiff and the 5th and 6th defendants are also from Akwa Ibom my state of origin, I hereby disqualify myself. Justice must not only be done but seen to be done. This case is hereby remitted back to the CJ for reassignment to any other judge other than myself, upon the court resumption from vacation.”

Meanwhile, on Thursday, August 18, Justice Abang was faulted by the appeal court in Abuja for refusing to hands-off the suit that led to the removal of Ikpeazu as Abia state governor. The five-man panel equally faulted him for “over reaching his powers”, by wrongly interpreting the Appeal Court Rules.

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