NNPCL Board Chair: Group calls on parties to respect court judgement on reinstatement of Araraume

The Amalgamated Arewa Youth Groups (AAYG) has called on parties to a court suit to respect the court judgment that restored Senator Ifeanyi Araraume to his position as non-executive chairman of the Board of Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL).

The group, at a press conference in Kaduna on Monday, said that obeying the court orders and judgment would strengthen the rule of law in Nigeria.

The group spoke against the backdrop of suggestions by another civil society organisation that the judgement that reinstated Araraume amounted to court’s usurpation of executive functions.

Spokesperson of AAYG, Comrade Aminu Abbas said that “the court’s decision should be respected and seen as a step towards strengthening the rule of law in Nigeria,” adding “we urge all stakeholders to abide by the decision of the court and work towards the progress and development of the nation.”

The group said that “considering the role the NNPCL plays in our national economy, the all-important company can’t continue to exist without a properly-constituted board.”

Read the text of the press confab reproduced hereunder in extenso:

“The attention of the Amalgamated Arewa Youth Groups has been drawn to a press statement credited to the Coalition of Arewa Civil Society Groups wherein they faulted the Federal High Court judgment that restored Senator Ifeanyi Araraume as the non-Executive Chairman of Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL).

“While expressing its displeasure over the ruling, the group said it viewed the Federal High Court’s pronouncement as a usurpation of the duties of the Office of the President and an affront to the powers of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“In its jejune position, it claimed that the decision of the court was a clear violation of the principle of separation of powers and a disregard for the authority of the President to make appointments and dismissals in the interest of the nation.

“Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a judgment, held that Araraume’s removal by Buhari contravened provisions of the extant laws governing the operations of the NNPC Ltd, including the  Petroleum Industry Act 2021 as well as the Company’s and Allied Matters Act 2020. The judge consequently made an order reinstating Araraume as the Non-Executive Chairman of the NNPC Ltd Board with immediate effect.

“The judge also held that the removal of Araraume without a fair hearing by the president was, ‘wrong and cannot be tolerated by a court of law’, adding that the ‘plaintiff has proved his case that he was not legally and properly removed’.

“The judge made an unambiguous order nullifying all actions and decisions taken by the NNPCL Board since January 17, 2022, when Senator Araraume was wrongfully removed as non-executive chairman.

“It is important to note that the judiciary is an independent arm of government that operates on the principles of fairness, justice, and the rule of law. The judgment delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo was based on the facts presented before the court and the relevant laws that govern the matter.

“Therefore, it is not appropriate for the Coalition of Arewa Civil Society Groups or any other group or groups, person or persons to accuse the court of usurping the duties of the Office of the President or to suggest that the judgment was an affront to the powers of President Muhammadu Buhari. Such statements are not only unfounded but also inappropriate.

“The court’s decision should be respected and seen as a step towards strengthening the rule of law in Nigeria. We urge all stakeholders to abide by the decision of the court and work towards the progress and development of the nation.

“Considering the role the NNPCL plays in our national economy, the all-important company can’t continue to exist without a properly-constituted board.

“Senator Araraume has a track record of serving Nigeria without any negative incidents. He was elected twice to represent his constituents in the Senate and was appointed by President Buhari to the Board of the Nigerian Communications Commission. He underwent security checks by the Department of State Security Service and the Nigerian Police Force, which cleared him for the appointment.

“People who have served our country deserve all the support they need. Our youth should shield themselves from being used as pawns in the power tussle that lacks legitimacy.

“We, therefore, wish to call on President Buhari to clear all hurdles so that Senator Araraume can resume office, and summon board meetings to possibly ratify resolutions that were taken while he was in court, seeking redress.

“We wish to equally call on those in the NNPCL Board sponsoring different groups to discount the orders and judgment of the court to desist from doing so, as we won’t fold our arms and watch the Judiciary being intimidated from doing its work.

“We wish to also call on those who are aggrieved by the ruling of the Federal High Court to take advantage of the Appeal and Supreme Courts to ventilate their disagreement with the judgment and stop this unnecessary coordinated campaign in the media to disparage the judgment of the court. This resort to court bashing is embarrassing our country in the comity of nations.  The act should be discontinued forthwith.

“Thank you, and God bless.”

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