The Coalition of Arewa Civil Society Groups has, in strong terms, faulted a court judgment that restored Senator Ifeanyi Ararume as non-Executive Chairman of Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL).
Expressing its displeasure over the ruling, the group said the Federal High Court’s pronouncement was viewed as a usurpation of the duties of the Office of the President and an affront to the powers of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The group made this known in a statement released on Wednesday and signed by its publicity secretary, Mallam Sanni Mohammed.
It could be recalled that on Tuesday, April 18, Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court Abuja declared the sack of Sen. Ifeanyi Ararume as non-Executive Chairman of NNPCL illegal and unconstitutional, as such, restored him back.
Reacting to the development, the coalition said it was ridiculous that the court saw the sacking of Ifeanyi Ararume as illegal, adding that the President acted within the confines of the law. The statement said, “The Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) is unambiguous as Section 14 is clear on the president’s power to suspend or remove members of the NNPCL board and the conditions that could result in such removal or suspension. As the Minister of Petroleum, President Buhari heads the industry with a wide range of powers to formulate, monitor, and administer government policies. Indeed, those who call Buhari’s sacking of Ararume illegal should read between the lines.”
The coalition urged the nation to grow past petty sentiments and avoid using the judiciary to cause chaos, setting the country backward by damaging its image before the eyes of the international community.
It praised the performance of Sen. Margery Cuba Okadigbo as chairman of the board and her unprecedented achievements since her appointment as the Chairman of the NNPCL board.
The statement reads, “The essence of any judicial intervention is to ensure orderliness and good conduct in government’s affairs. When a judicial pronouncement seeks to usurp the powers of another branch of government, it is a recipe for anarchy and the breakdown of the rule of law. In this regard, we in the Coalition of Arewa Civil Society groups note with great displeasure and consider as an aberration the judgment by the Federal High Court in Abuja, restoring Senator Ifeanyi Ararume as non-Executive Chairman of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL).
“The Coalition views as a usurpation of the duties of the Office of the President and an affront to the powers of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“For a start, the 1999 Constitution provides that “5(1) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the executive powers of the Federation — (a) shall be vested in the President and may, subject as aforesaid and to the provisions of any law made by the National Assembly, be exercised by him either directly or through the Vice-President and Ministers of the Government of the Federation or officers in the Public Service of the Federation.”
“Also, the cabinet and the larger administrative team, except where specifically established by the constitution, hold their appointments at the pleasure of Mr. President.”
It added that section 147 provides that “(1) there shall be such offices of Ministers of the Government of the Federation as may be established by the President.”
“Sub-section (2) restates the exclusivity of the president’s power to hire a minister (and other appointees) by stating that “any appointment to the office of Minister of the Government of the Federation shall if the nomination of any person to such office is confirmed by the Senate, be made by the President.” Naturally, whoever can hire can also fire.”
The coalition opined that it is “ridiculous to claim that the sack of Sen. Ararume is illegal. How can it be illegal when the president acts within the confines of the law? The Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) is unambiguous as Section 14 is clear on the president’s power to suspend or remove members of the NNPCL board and the conditions that could result in such removal or suspension. As the Minister of Petroleum, President Buhari heads the industry with a wide range of powers to formulate, monitor, and administer government policies. Indeed, those who call Buhari’s sacking of Ararume illegal should read between the lines”.
According to them, “Nigeria cannot continue like this! The oil sector is already suffering huge setbacks due to oil bunkering, theft, vandalism, and gas flaring. As a mainstay of the economy, we cannot neglect this sector. We need the best brains to act fast to salvage this sector”.
They believe that Sen. Margery Cuba Okadigbo has not failed in her endeavor as chairman of the board and “has brought unprecedented achievements since her appointment as the Chairman of the NNPCL board.
“Sen. Okadigbo is a fine lawyer with a wealth of experience (over 40 years) of leadership and has been exceptional in discharging her duties. Her focus and vision have turned things around, giving the NNPCL a new face of hope nationally and internationally.
“We are pleased that the Presidency has indicated that it is appealing the obnoxious judgment. We urge President Muhammadu Buhari not to distract the present Chairman (Sen. Margery Cuba Okadigbo) from placing the NNPCL on the world map of record. And to continue in his quest to finish strong, which started with the passage of the PIA after several failed attempts by various administrations.
“We use this opportunity to enjoin the judiciary not operate within its powers and not take on the authority of the President and Presidency by delivering embarrassing judgments.”