The Human Rights Law Service (HURILAWS) has threatened to institute legal proceedings against the Federal Government if it fails to adjust the composition of appointments of members of the Board of Directors of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
In a letter addressed to Dr. Shettima Abba, the Acting Chairman of the Federal Character Commission, a Senior Legal Officer at HURILAWS, Collins Okeke, said the appointments at the NNPC have three persons from the North East region of the country to the exclusion of people from the South East region.
The letter read in part that, “We write to draw your attention to appointments made by the Federal Government into the Board of Directors of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation as follows: Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu (South-South); Dr. Maikanti Baru (North East); Mr. Abba Kyari (North East); Mr. Mahmoud Isa-Dutse (North Central); Dr. Pius O. Akinyelure (South west); Dr. Tajuddeen Umar (North East); Dr.Thomas M.A John (South South); Mallam Mohammed Lawal, and Mallam Yusuf Lawal.
“You can see that three members of the Board are from the North East and the South East has no representation. This is a clear violation of the Federal character principle enshrined in Section 14(3) of the Constitution to ensure proportional sharing of all bureaucratic, economic, media and political posts at all levels of government in Nigeria. Section 14 (3) of the Constitution provides as follows:
“The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies”.
HURILAWS, therefore, urged the Commission to compel the Federal Government to comply with the Federal Character Principle.
It said that “By denying the South East representation in the Board of an important national corporation like the NNPC, the Federal Government has discriminated against the South East by subjecting citizens from the South East to disabilities or restrictions which other regions of Nigeria are not subject.
“Section 42 (1) of the Constitution provides that “a citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:
(a)be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religious or political opinions are not made subject;…
“As you well know, the function of the Federal Character Commission in Section 4 (1)(b) of the Federal Character Commission Act CAP F7 LFN 2004 is to monitor, promote and enforce compliance with the Federal character principle by ensuring that each region of Nigeria is fairly represented at all levels of government.
“We request that the Commission compels the Federal Government to comply with the Constitution in appointment of the Board of Directors of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, failing which after seven days we shall initiate legal proceedings.”