By DAPO OLAWUNI
A maritime stakeholder and Publisher of Shipping World Magazine, Elder Asu Beks has dragged President Muhammadu Buhari, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Hadiza Bala Usman and the Board Chairman of NPA, Emmanuel Adesoye to court over alleged unlawful extension of the NPA MD’s tenure in office even when her first tenure is yet to expire by six months.
Recall that President Buhari in January approved the reappointment of Hadiza Bala Usman as the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for another term of 5 years.
Hadiza was first appointed as the Managing Director on July 12, 2016.
In a suit number FHC/L/CS/485/2021 before the Federal High Court in Lagos, Elder Asu Beks and two others; Mr Tompra Abarowei and Mr Miebi Senge as plaintiffs through their lawyers, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) on Thursday 25th of March 2021 filed the application and Court summons against the defendants.
The plaintiffs, Elder Asu Beks and two others argued that President Muhammadu Buhari reappointment of Hadiza Bala Usman as MD of NPA, six clear months before the expiration of her present tenure contravenes the provisions of Sections 2 and 10 of the NPA Act, Cap N126, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, and thereby renders same unlawful, wrongful, illegal, null and void, and of no effect whatsoever.
The plaintiffs said the appointment and composition of the new Board of the NPA as announced by the President on 21st of January, 2021, is in blatant violation of the express provisions of Section 2 of the NPA Act, Cap, N126, LFN, 2004, as the said Act does not contemplate the composition of the Board based on geopolitical zones.
“The 1st Defendant (Buhari) had, on 21st of January, 2021, and six (6) clear months to the expiration of the tenure of the 3rd Defendant (Hadiza), announced the premature reappointment and extension of the tenure of the 3rd Defendant as the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in utter disregard and gross violation of to the provisions of Sections 2 and 10 of the NPA Act, Cap N126 LFN 2004 which is the enabling Act”
“The 1st Defendant dissolved the Board of the Nigeria Ports Authority and purported to have reconstituted the said Board which is now headed by the 4th Defendant (Adesoye) as the Chairman, in utter violation of the provisions of the extant Act establishing the NPA”
“The 3rd and 4th Defendants, together with the entire Board of the NPA having not been properly constituted, have no authority or legal basis whatsoever to continue to act in their respective offices and receiving salaries, emoluments and perquisites of office at the expense of tax payers money”
“The draftsmen of the NPA Act envisaged a Board of the NPA duly and properly constituted by technocrats with experience in shipping and commerce and not a Board peopled by political party patrons and friends of politicians”
“The appointment and reconstitution of the Board of the NPA by the 1st Defendant on the recommendation of the 2nd Defendant (Rotimi Amaechi) constitute a grave infringement on the provisions of the NPA Act, and same are illegal, wrongful, unlawful. unconscionable, null and void and of no effect whatsoever”
“lt amounts to a gross violation of the provisions of the Constitution and their Oaths of Office for the 1st and 2nd Defendants to use the instrumentality of their respective offices or to use their influence to patronize their friends and supporters by way of appointments which corrupts the system”
The plaintiffs sought an Order of the Court setting aside the purported and premature reappointment of Hadiza Bala Usman as the Managing Director of the NPA and the consequential dissolution of the Board of the NPA headed by Adesoye as reconstituted by Buhari in January, 2021.
The defendants also sought the entire Board of the NPA to vacate forthwith their respective offices and refund to the Federal Government of Nigeria, all salaries, allowances and benefits received by them with effect from January 21, 2021, (when the Board was appointed), to the coffers of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Other prayers of the plaintiffs are “Mandatory and perpetual injunction restraining the 1st Defendant (Buhari), whether by himself and/or acting through any of his Ministers, officers, servants, agents, and/or privies, under any guise howsoever, from further breaching or continuing to breach the provisions of the NPA Act by pre-maturely re-appointing and extending the tenure of office of the 3rd Defendant occupant of the offlce of the Managing Director, NPA and also appointing members of the Board of the NPA, in gross violation of the express provisions of the NPA Act, (Cap, N126, LFN, 2004) ”