A former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President Dr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) has sued the Federal Government over alleged violation of the Federal Character principle in the composition of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) board.
He said none of the persons appointed to fill the nine positions is from the states that make up the Southeast geopolitical zone.
According to Agbakoba, more than one person was appointed from other geo-political zones in violation of the Constitution.
Members of the board include Dr Tajuddeen Umar (Northeast), Dr. MaikantiBaru (Northeast), Mr. Abba Kyari (Northeast), Mr. Mahmoud Isa-Dutse (North Central), Mallam Mohammed Lawal and Mallam Yusuf Lawal (both Northerners).
Others are Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu (South-South), Dr. Thomas M.A John (South-South), and Dr. Pius Akinyelure (South-West).
“The reason for the action (lawsuit) is that the Federal Government has always discriminated against Nigerians indigenous to the states in the Southeast zone in the appointments into the board of the second respondent (NNPC).
“The Federal Government, by the lopsided appointment, accords numerical advantage to states in other geo-political zones to the detriment of the applicant’s Southeast geopolitical zone that is totally excluded from the board of the second respondent,” he said.
According to him, Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution guarantees the right of every citizen to freedom from discrimination.
Agbakoba said the Constitution also “prohibits any administrative or executive action of the government or application of any law in force in Nigeria discriminating between Nigerians or accords any privilege or disability to any Nigerian, on account of ethnicity, state of origin, etc.”
Attorney-General of the Federation, NNPC and the Federal Character Commission are the respondents in the suit filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja.
Agbakoba is seeking a declaration that the distribution of appointment into the NNPC’s Board made on July 5 last year violates the principle of democracy, social justice and Federal Character prescribed by Section 14(1) and (13) of the 1999 Constitution.
He is praying for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Federal Government from further violation of the Constitution and other laws including the Federal Character Commission (Establishment, etc.) Act in appointment of NNPC board members.
He further asked for an order of perpetual injunction directing the Federal Government to henceforth apply the constitutional principles of democracy, social justice and all laws relating to Federal Character, including the Federal Character Commission (Establishment, etc.) Act in appointing NNPC board members.