The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, dismisses a suit seeking the sack of the Interim Management Committee(IMC) appointed for the Niger-Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Justice Inyang Ekwo, while delivering a judgment, held that the plaintiffs did not have the requisite locus standi to file the suit.
The judge, who said that the development robbed his court of the jurisdiction to look into their prayers, thereafter struck out the suit.
Gfhnews reports that the suit, filed by Akharame Izedome Lucky, Adward Brisibe, Youths Arise for Undiluted Leadership and Development Initiative and Riverrun Development Initiative, was marked as FHC/ABJ/CS/690/2020.
The defendants include the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF); the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs; NDDC MD, Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei; Dr. Cairo Ojougboh; Mrs. Caroline Nagbo and Cecilia Bukola Akintomide.
Justice Ekwo held that the two groups, among the plaintiffs, lacked the power, by virtue of their registration status, to file such suit challenging the action of government agencies.
As it related to the two natural persons among the plaintiffs, Justice Ekwo ruled that they did not fall among those described as stakeholders in Section 2(1)(b) of the NDDC Act, “who are clothed with the locus standi to query the actions and decisions taken in relation to the management of the NDDC.
“I do not see any lacuna in the NDDC Act that would enable any person not mentioned in Section 2(1)(b) thereof to claim to be acting in the interest of either any person mentioned in the provision or not so mentioned.
“In addition to this, I do not see the status given the persons in Section 2(1)(b) of the NDDC Act such that can be delegated to any other person or hijacked by any other person.
“Let me put it more specifically for the purpose of clarity.
It is my opinion that the effect of the provisions of Section 2(1)(b) of the NDDC Act is that there can be no action by proxy for them.
They are the mentioned stakeholders of the law. “Therefore, if the persons mentioned in Section 2(1)(b) of the NDDC Act refuse, neglect or fail to act where there is allegation of infractions of the provisions of the Act, it means they do not consider the alleged act as infraction.”
According to him, if there is any breach or infraction of the provisions of the NDDC Act, it is the stakeholders or any of them specifically mentioned in Section 2(1) thereof that is clothed with the locus standi to take an action.
“To give effect to the intention of the legislature on locus standi of the stakeholders mentioned in Section 2(1)(b) of the NDDC Act, it can be seen that each of them are corporate persons with inherent power to sue and be sued.
“I find that the 1st and 2nd plaintiffs, not being persons mentioned in Section 2(1)(b) of the NDDC Act cannot institute an action in court on any matter concerning or pertaining to the appointment of Managing Director, Executive Directors and members of the Management Board of the NDDC.
“In other words, they lack the locus standi to institute this suit.
They should rather hold those who have the locus standi to act, but have not done so responsible.
“0n the whole, I resolve the issue of locus standi against the plaintiffs and in favour of the 1st defendant and by this resolution, the issue of locus slandi respectively raised by the 2nd and 3rd to 8th defendants, is by extension resolved in their favour.
“Now, where a plaintiff has been adjudged to lack locus standi, it does not matter what other issues have been raised for determination.
Those issues have been overtaken by event. Lack of locus standi ordinarily means the plaintiff has no legal right or authority to cross the threshold of the court for the purpose of litigation.
“Once the court finds that a plaintiff lacks locus standi, then the court lacks jurisdiction to consider or decide any other issue in the suit and this is the case here,” he said.
Justice Ekwo, therefore, said the consequence of the lack of locus standi was dire and that the court was unwavering in making pronouncement on this.
“It is the law that the claims must be struck out and I am bound to follow the law. I therefore make an order striking this action for lack of standi of the plaintiffs,” he held.