The Coalition of Arewa Civil Society Group (CACSG) has criticized a judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja, restoring Senator Ifeanyi Ararume as non-Executive Chairman of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), describing it as an usurpation of the powers of another arm of government and a recipe for anarchy.
CACSG said in a statement and given to Persecondnews on Wednesday in Abuja that it noted with great displeasure and consider it as an aberration the judgment by the court.
“When a judicial pronouncement seeks to usurp the powers of another branch of government, it is recipe for anarchy and break down of the rule of law.
“It is in this regard that we in the Coalition of Arewa Civil Society groups note with great displeasure and consider as an aberration the judgement by the Federal High Court in Abuja, restoring Senator Ifeanyi Ararume as non-Executive Chairman of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL).
“The essence of any judicial intervention is to ensure orderliness and good conduct in government’s affairs,’’ the statement signed by Mallam Sanni Mohammed, the Publicity Secretary said.
Pointing out that the judgment was an usurpation of the duties of the Office of the President and an affront on the powers of President Muhammadu Buhari, CACSG said the power to appoint or remove the chairman of NNPC Ltd board is vested in the president and not subject to judicial intervention or interpretation.
“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.
“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 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, he whoever can hire can also fire.
“It is, therefore, ridiculous to claim that the sack of Sen. Ararume is illegal. How can it be illegal when the president acted 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.
“President Buhari as the Minister of Petroleum heads the industry with a wide range of powers to formulate, monitor, and administer government policies. Indeed, those who calls Buhar’s sacking of Ararume illegal should read in between the lines,’’ it stated.
While stressing that the nation must grow beyond petty sentiments and avoid using the judiciary to cause chaos, the Arewa group said the judgment was capable of setting the country backward by damaging its image before the eyes of the international community.
CACSG said: “Nigeria cannot continue like this! The oil sector is already suffering huge setbacks as a result of oil bunkering, theft, vandalism and gas flaring. As a mainstay of the economy, we cannot neglect this sector, we need the best of brains to act fast in order to salvage this sector.
“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 wealth of experience (over 40years) of leadership, has been exceptional in discharge of her duties. Her focus and vision has turned things around giving the NNPCL a new face of hope both national and internationally.
“We are pleased that the Presidency has given indication that it is appealing the obnoxious judgment. We urge President Muhammadu Buhari not to be distracted to distract the present Chairman (Sen. Margery Cuba Okadigbo) from placing the NNPCL on 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.’’
CACSG, therefore, urged the judiciary to operate within its powers and not take on the authority of the President and the Presidency by delivering judgments that are embarrassing.