February 27, 2021

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It’s Illegal To Merge NDDC With Niger Delta Ministry -Lawyer

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The presidency has been urged to overturn its decision merging the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) with the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs (MNDA) as it is illegal and contrary to the extant provisions of the NDDC Act 2000, Act No. 6, Laws of Federation of Nigeria (LFN).
A legal practitioner and former welfare and financial secretary of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Kelvin Ejelonu said in Yenagoa that the letter signed by Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to the President and addressed to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, purportedly delegating the management and control of NDDC to the said ministry was made without properly appreciating and considering the extant and relevant provisions of the NDDC Act which not only established the NDDC but amongst other things, expressly and without any ambiguity, state the functions and powers of the commission.
According to him, it is captured in part II of the NDDC Act, which contains sections 7 and 8 of the Act of which section 7 (3) clearly states that “the commission shall be subject to the direction, control or supervision in the performance of its functions under this Act, by the President, Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
He further explained that section 9(2) of the Act provides that “the Board may, with the approval of the President, Commander-In-Chief of Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria increases the number and the Directorates as it may deem necessary and expedient to facilitate the realization of the objectives of the Commission.”
He said the above provisions clearly showed that the NDDC Act 2000, which established the NDDC for all intent and purposes requires that the NDDC is to be subject to the direction, control and supervision of the President and Commander-In-Chief of Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, saying these are clear provisions of a statute signed into law which cannot be wished away by a letter even from The Presidency.
“Furthermore, section 17, 19 and 20 of the said NDDC Act which respectively state the need for NDDC board to seek the President’s consent to submit reports to the president, also clearly shows the clear intendment of the makers of the statute that the NDDC is under the direction, control and supervision of the president.”
Ejelonu urged The Presidency not to precipitate legal crisis by trying to wish away clear statutory provisions with a letter which is clear illegality and that as the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs has been co-existing with the NDDC with different lines of function, saying they should remain that way.
He said there was also a North East Development Commission (NEDC) which is on its own and not sought to be merged, swallowed or annexed by any ministry.
He further stated that this problem arose due to the delay in the inauguration of the NDDC board, as for a while, the commission had been largely inactive due to the non-inauguration of the said boards and calls on the federal government to carry out the necessary steps towards the inauguration of the board, by forwarding the names of the nominees to the National Assembly so that the board could be inaugurated.

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