NGO Drags EFCC To Court For Interfering In NDDC Funds
A Non Governmental Organization (NGO) under the aegis of Alliance for Growth And Development (AGD) in Rivers State has dragged the anti-graft agency – Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to court for tampering with the Niger Delta Development Commission Funds.
In a suit No PHC/2048/2022, Comrade Kegan Weli, Comrade Ameh Tobin and others of Rukpokwu Town in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State for themselves and as representing the members of the Alliance for Growth and Development in Rivers State have decried the untoward activities of the agency which they noted is unlawfully interfering in the NDDC affairs.
According to the originating summons brought before the Port Harcourt High Court pursuant to Order 3, Rule 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the High Court (Civil Procedures) Rule 2010 and Section 6 (6,8) of the Federal Government of Nigeria Constitution 1999 (As amended), the claimants’ appealed to the Court to let EFCC within 31days after the summons on them; inclusive of the day of such service, cause an appearance to be entered for them and as well file any other process in response to the summons which is issued upon the application of the applicants/claimants who seek the determination of some questions including whether the defendant without any court order can unilaterally usurp the place of the NDDC by directly demanding and receiving funds due to the NDDC from the oil producing and gas processing companies operating onshore and offshore in the Niger Delta area pursuant to Section 4 (2) of the NDDC (establishment) Act, Cap No 86 laws of the Federal Government of Nigeria 2004 or from the NDDC itself.
They also seek clarification whether the defendant can also unilaterally take over the expenditure of funds accruable to the NDDC which have been paid over to the defendant or whether the defendant can give directives to NDDC on the contractor(s) to whom such funds must first be paid to.
The claimants among other things are equally seeking the declaration of the court that NDDC as a statutory body cannot be coerced or taken over by the defendant under the guise of any statute or legislation to direct and compel the NDDC to pay over all monies and funds accruable to her from the multi-national oil and gas companies operating within the Niger Delta area to the defendant’s account or any account specially nominated by the defendant for such purpose.
In a document made available to the press by the claimant’s solicitor, OGUAFOR & PARTNERS of No. 69 Emekuku Street, D-Line, Port Harcourt, they are also seeking for an Injunctive Order of the court restraining the defendant from further directing the interventionist agency and the multi-national oil and gas companies from paying statutory funds due and accruable to the NDDC to the defendant’s account or any other account.
The claimants are as well asking the court to order the defendant to immediately remit, return and/or account for all the monies collected within the last six (6) months from their debtors into the NDDC account.
It is worthy to note, the counsel stressed, that the NDDC was created to tackle the problems of the under-developed and neglected in the Niger Delta area which is the area from which the wealth of the country is being gotten.
The learned counsel to the claimants in the suit had argued that the current action of the EFFC is a subtle way to cripple the NDDC and thereby frustrate the much needed development of the region.
He pointed out that it is their case that under the extant laws in Nigeria, there is no provision authorizing the EFCC to directly demand, received and keep the 3 percent statutory allocation due to the NDDC from the oil majors operating in the Niger Delta area.
He also argued that the EFCC is not a debt recovery or collection agency and therefore their present action on the NDDC should be discouraged as according to the counsel “the EFCC action is actuated by illicit and evil motives”.
He disclosed further that although the court is yet to fix a date for the hearing of the matter that an advance copy of the originating summons and other processes have been served on the EFCC.