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Ararume drags Buhari to court for removing him as NNPC chairman

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Senator Ifeanyi Godwin Ararume has, on Wednesday, dragged President Muhammadu Buhari to the Federal High Court in Abuja for allegedly removing him unlawfully as a non-Executive Chairman of the newly Incorporated Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited.

In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/691/2022, Senator Ararume is demanding N100 billion as damages the removal caused him after the federal government used his name to incorporate the entity.

He noted that on October 20, 2021, President Buhari approved his appointment as a non-Executive Chairman for a period of initial five years upon which basis his name was registered in the Memorandum of Articles of the Company and the appointment announced.

Based on that appointment, Ararume claimed that he attended the 23rd World Petroleum Congress in the United States of America.

To his chagrin, however, on January 7th, 2022, Buhari inaugurated the NNPC Board with another person named in his place.

According to him, he was informed of the withdrawal of his appointment in a letter of January 17, 2022, but without any reason whatsoever to justify the purported removal.

The suit was instituted on his behalf by seven Senior Advocates of Nigeria comprising Chief Chris Uche, Ahmed Raji, Mahmud Magaji, Ogwu James Onoja, K.C Nwufor and Gordy Uche.

He asked the court to determine, in view of the provisions of the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the NNPC, Companies and Allied Matters Act 2010 and the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, whether the office of the non-Executive Chairman is not governed and regulated by the stated provisions of the law.

He also sought interpretation of section 63 (3) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, and to determine if the decision of the president to remove him as non-Executive Chairman of the NNPC for any reason outside the provisions of the law is lawful.

Ararume further asked the court to determine whether Buhari can sack him without compliance with expressly stated provisions of the Articles of Memorandum of Association of the Company, section 63 (3) of the PIA Act 2021 and section 288 of the CAMA Act 2020.

Also listed for determination was whether his purported removal letter of January 17, 2022, without compliance with expressly stated provisions of the law is not wrongful, illegal, null and void and of no legal consequence whatsoever.

He then prayed the court for the following:

  • a declaration that his position as non-Executive Chairman of the NNPC is exclusively governed and regulated by CAMA 2020, PIA Act 2021 and Memorandum of Association of the Company.
  • a declaration that by the provisions of section 63 (3) of the PIA Act, CAMA Act and Memorandum of Association of the NNPC, the President cannot by removing him from office as non-Executive Chairman without following due process of the law.
  • an order of the Court setting aside his removal by Buhari vide letter of January 17, 2022, with reference number SGF.3V111/86.
  • an order of the court reinstating him forthwith and restoring him to office with all the appurtenant rights and privileges of the office of the NNPC non-Executive Chairman.
  • nullification and setting aside of all decisions and resolutions of the NNPC Board made in his absence from January 17, 2022, to date
  • an order restraining the defendants from removing his name as Director of the Company.

Subsequently, Ararume asserted that he has suffered the loss of credibility and goodwill, untold emotional, mental and psychological trauma and public humiliation, degradation and embarrassment by his purported removal by President Buhari.He requested for N100 billion as damages for the wrongful removal, disruption and interruption of his term of office as non-Executive Chairman of the NNPC.

The suit was supported with a 75-paragraph affidavit.

At Wednesday’s proceedings, Justice Inyang Ekwo ordered that the Corporate Affairs Commission be joined as a party and fixed December 15 for further mention. Read more.

 

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