Ihuoma Chiedozie and Oladimeji Ramon
A former president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), has sued the Federal Government for allegedly discriminating against the South-East geopolitical zone in its July 5, 2016 appointment into the board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
Agbakoba, in the suit filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja, said the Federal Government, on July 5, 2016 appointed nine persons into the NNPC board but none of them was from the South-East.
The failure to appoint someone from the South-East, Agbakoba argued, was a demonstration of the Federal Government’s bias against the five south-eastern states of Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo and Abia.
Those appointed, he noted, were Dr. Tajuddeen Umar from the North-East; Dr. Maikanti Baru (North-East), Mr. Abba Kyari (North- East), Mr. Mahmoud Isa-Dutse (North-Central), Mallam Mohammed Lawal, Mallam Yusuf Lawal, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu (South-South), Dr. Thomas M.A. John (South-South) and Dr. Pius O. Akinyelure (South-West).
Agbakoba, who is from Anambra State, is seeking a court declaration that the Federal Government violated the constitutional rights of the five south-eastern states to freedom from discrimination which is enshrined in Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution.
The appointment, he argued, also violated Section 4(1)(a) of the Federal Character Commission (Establishment, etc.) Act.
The respondents in the suit are the Attorney General of the Federation, NNPC and the Federal Character Commission.
Agbakoba wants the court to declare that “the appointment made on July 5, 2016, violates the principle of democracy, social justice and Federal Character prescribed by Section 14(1) and (13) of the 1999 Constitution.”
He wants the court to make an order of perpetual injunction “restraining the Federal Government of Nigeria as represented by the 1st respondent from further violation of the constitution and other laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, including the Federal Character Commission (Establishment, etc.) Act in the appointment of members of the board of the 2nd respondent.”
Agbakoba said, “I want the honourable court to, in the interest of justice, enforce the fundamental right of freedom from discrimination of the entire Nigerians indigenous to the states in the South-East geopolitical Zone, comprising of Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo and Abia states, to afford every Nigerian equal opportunity, based on merit, in appointments into the board of the 2nd respondent.”
Meanwhile, the Enugu State chapter of the All Progressives Congress has rejected the appointment of two persons from the state into the governing board of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency.
The duo, Loretta Aniagolu and Chukwunwike Uzo, were listed among the 13-member FERMA board, which was reportedly approved by President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday.
However, addressing journalists after a meeting of the State Executive Committee, chairman of the party in Enugu, Dr. Ben Nwoye, said Aniagolu and Uzo were not members of the party, and as a result, should not be appointed into the FERMA board on the slot of Enugu State APC.
Nwoye disclosed that Aniagolu was a known member of the Peoples Democratic Party in Enugu State.
“These two appointments are objectionable to the APC members in Enugu State.
“Aniagolu is not a member of the APC – she currently serves as a member of the economic committee of the PDP government in Enugu State. She is championing the Centenary City, a PDP government project in Enugu.
“Aniagolu funds the PDP in Enugu State – she aids and abets those who would not want to see the APC succeed in Enugu State,” Nwoye said.
He disclosed that the APC in Enugu State would petition the President and the leadership of the National Assembly over the matter.
The Enugu APC chairman expressed regrets that most of the appointments that had come to the state from the Federal Government went to individuals from Eke Ward, in Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State.
A list made available to journalists at the news conference showed that out of seven federal appointments that have come to the state, five were given to persons from Eke Ward.
According to the list, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, Dr. Josiah Ezeilo, a Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku, a Senior Special Assistant to the President, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, the Director General of Voice of Nigeria, and Aniagolu, member of the FERMA board, are all from Eke Ward.
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