On Wednesday, November 9, 2022, a former member of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007, Ifeanyi Godwin Araraume, approached a federal excessive courtroom in Abuja, with a swimsuit difficult his removing as non-executive chairman, the board of the newly-incorporated Nigerian Nationwide Petroleum Firm (NNPC) Restricted. Araraume joined within the swimsuit, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the NNPC Restricted as first and second defendants respectively.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, who presided, adverted the eye of the lead counsel for the plaintiff, Chris Uche (SAN) to Order 9, Rule 14 (2b) of the federal excessive courtroom (Civil Process) Guidelines 2019 on proceedings not defeated by misjoinder or non-joinder, which permits a decide to make an order for a celebration or events, whose presence in a matter is pertinent, to be joined. He ordered that the Company Affairs Fee (CAC) be joined as a mandatory get together because the case additionally needed to do with the interpretation of the Corporations and Allied Issues Act (CAMA).
Araraume’s authorized workforce concurred with the decide to amend its processes and file the identical inside 5 days. With the order made by the courtroom for the plaintiff to amend his processes to affix CAC, the defendants had been additionally to file their responses to the plaintiff’s amended originating summons. Though the NNPC Restricted was not represented in courtroom, with the concurrence of counsel to the first defendant (President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria), Alhassan Shuaibu, Justice Ekwo adjourned the matter to December 15 for point out.
There isn’t any doubt that the litigation will generate a lot curiosity and entice each nationwide and world consideration, particularly from members of the worldwide enterprise group who do or are prone to do enterprise with NNPC Restricted. They’re very a lot prone to grow to be cautious in getting into into agreements with NNPC Restricted below the challenged board of administrators. It’s because one of many orders of the courtroom sought by the plaintiff (Araraume) is nullification and setting apart of all choices and resolutions of the board of the NNPC Restricted made within the absence of the plaintiff from the seventeenth Day of January 2022 (when he was allegedly wrongfully eliminated as non-executive chairman of the board) until date. Traders could be extra disposed to err on the aspect of warning within the circumstance of pending litigation.
It is usually necessary to level out that the 4 questions formulated by the plaintiff for dedication by the courtroom straddle and are predicated on the Petroleum Trade Act (PIA), the CAMA and the Memorandum and Articles of Affiliation of the NNPC Restricted. The questions themselves would seem to cowl the complete subject of unique governance and regulation of his workplace and place as non-executive chairman of the board of the NNPC Restricted by the PIA 2021, CAMA 2020 and the Memorandum and Articles of Affiliation of the NNPC Restricted; how he could possibly be lawfully faraway from workplace and if he could possibly be lawfully eliminated for any motive(s) outdoors the situations particularly listed in Part 63(3) of the PIA, 2021.
Curiously, Araraume needs the courtroom to find out whether or not as board chairman of the NNPC Restricted for a set time period of 5 years with impact from the twenty first day of September 2021 when he was appointed, he could possibly be lawfully eliminated by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at will and with out compliance with the strict provisions of Articles 21.3, 21.4 and 24 of the Memorandum and Articles of Affiliation of the NNPC Restricted, Sections 63(3) of the PIA, 2021 and Part 288 of the CAMA, 2020; and whether or not his purported removing vide a letter dated January 17, 2022, with out compliance with the Articles and sections acknowledged supra shouldn’t be wrongful, unlawful, null and void and of no authorized consequence in any respect.
Araraume should have thought by means of this matter earlier than approaching the courtroom by way of the method of originating summons (transferring the courtroom to interpret the provisions of the extant legal guidelines regulating the NNPC Ltd and inside which his rights, having been appointed as non-executive chairman and listed as a director within the registration paperwork with Company Affairs Fee as a CAMA firm, are circumscribed, protected and preserved). He had from the purpose of his appointment acquired some rights, which he fairly believes had been tampered with; and it’s settled in regulation that “the place there’s a proper, there’s a treatment” (Ubi jus, ibi remedium). The postulation is that the place the regulation has established a proper, there must be a corresponding treatment for its breach. The appropriate to a treatment is without doubt one of the elementary rights traditionally acknowledged in all authorized techniques.
Flowing from the postulation supra, those that assume that Araraume is preventing President Muhammadu Buhari by going to courtroom to problem his alleged wrongful removing are, with all due respects, getting it mistaken. In spite of everything, the primary defendant is the Workplace of the President of Nigeria. Anyone that occupies it from Could 29, 2023, will likely be sure by regardless of the final result of the swimsuit is. Perusing the 9 reliefs that Araraume is asking the courtroom to grant after figuring out sure questions, referenced above, in his favour, one would admire the seemingly extensiveness of the ramifications of the 9 consequential declarations and orders sought, together with, amongst others, an order of the courtroom reinstating him (Araraume) forthwith and restoring him to his workplace with all of the appurtenant rights and privileges of his workplace because the non-executive chairman of the board of NNPC Restricted; an order restraining the defendants from eradicating his identify as a director of board of the NNPC Restricted as contained within the Memorandum and Articles of Affiliation, the standing report and every other such paperwork of the NNPC Restricted saved within the data of the Company Affairs Fee; and, the sum of N100,000,000,000 (One Hundred Billion Naira) being damages for the wrongful removing, disruption and interruption of the time period of workplace of the plaintiff because the non-executive chairman of the board of the NNPC Restricted.
What I believe Araraume’s authorized enterprise exemplifies within the context of the imaginary “battle” with President Buhari, as perceived in some quarters, is actually not a battle, each within the literal and literary varieties; however it’s a conscientious effort in direction of defending his integrity in order that posterity will likely be actually guided to fittingly keep in mind him for who he actually was, and to not be remembered from the opposite camp’s subjective notion of his persona. The seemingly unfavorable notion, accentuated by his sudden removing with out explanations, that has been intentionally and subtly foisted and hoisted on the pole of consideration within the public area about him is what Araraume seeks to obviate and/or demolish by means of the courtroom.
Araraume’s appointment with future as a businessman and politician may be very important in defining a persona that has been robustly projected for public appreciation, approbation, affiliation and validation. His appointment as non-executive chairman of the board of NNPC Restricted was the important validation of that persona by President Buhari. His pedigree and standing had been understandably leveraged in his appointment as NNPC Ltd board chair, a place that’s not for a nonstarter.
Now, when that appointment was made, it was very effectively publicized within the media. Eradicating him unceremoniously from workplace and place wherein he had begun to operate with out official rationalisation or explanations has rendered him a sufferer of untamed, wild imaginations, contemplations and conclusions by well-meaning and right-thinking members of the society in addition to mischief makers who’re prone to conjecture that he (Araraume) might need dedicated some heinous acts or acted in breach of the regulation which may have necessitated a overview and dedication of his (Araraume’s) appointment. This, precisely, is the elephant within the room with regard to his appointment and removing that Araraume needs to take care of by way of his swimsuit: that he had not dedicated any infraction of the extant legal guidelines, whether or not now or prior to now to warrant his removing with out following due course of as circumscribed by the related legal guidelines. On this character-preserving enterprise that has doubtlessly redeeming authorized options, I’m consensus advert idem with Araraume.
Sufuyan Ojeifo contributed this piece by way of firstname.lastname@example.org