July 21, 2024

Sen. Ararume sues President Buhari for ‘wrongful removal’ as NNPC board chairman,  demands reinstatement, N100bn compensation

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Oredola Adeola

Senator Ifeanyi Godwin Ararume has dragged the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari before a Federal High Court in Abuja over his alleged unlawful removal as non-executive of Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL),  while also praying to be reinstated as the board chairman and be paid N100 billion in damages.

Ararume claimed that his removal as board chairman of NNPCL, after he was confirmed by the President in September 2021 and replaced with Margaret Chuba Okadigbo in January 2022, was a total breach of the 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.

The former Senator, had in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/691/2022 instituted on his behalf by a group of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) comprising Chief Chris Uche, Ahmed Raji, Mahmud Magaji, Ogwu James Onoja, K.C Nwufor and Gordy Uche, brought before Justice Inyang Ekwo, of the Federal High Court, Abuja, asked the Court to determine whether, by a proper construction and interpretation of the provisions of the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the 2nd defendant, the Companies and Allied matters Act, 2020 and the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, the office and position of a non-executive chairman are not exclusively governed and regulated by the Companies and Allied matters Act, 2020, the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021 and the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the 2nd defendant.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, the proceedings on Wednesday, ordered that the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) be joined as a party following no objection from Counsel to Senator Ararume Chris Uche and counsel to President Buhari.In the suit, Ararume formulated four issues for determination by the court among which was whether 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, the office of the non-Executive Chairman is not governed and regulated by the stated provisions of the law.

He was also asking the court to determine whether, by the interpretation of section 63 (3) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, the President can lawfully remove him as non-Executive Chairman of the NNPC for any reason outside the provisions of the law.
He pleaded that the court should determine whether President  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.
Upon the determination of the issues in his favour, the plaintiff wants the court to make 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.
As a relief, he is asking the Court to, “A declaration of this Honourable Court that by the provisions of Section 63(3) of the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021, the 1st defendant cannot lawfully remove the plaintiff as the non-executive chairman of the 2nd defendant for any reason(s) whatsoever outside the conditions specifically listed in the said Section 63(3) of the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021.

“An order of this Honourable Court setting aside the removal of the plaintiff as the non-executive chairman of the 2nd defendant vide the 1st defendant’s letter dated the 17th Day of January 2022 with reference no: SGF.3/VIII/86.“An order of this Honourable Court reinstating the plaintiff forthwith and restoring him to his office with all the appurtenant rights and privileges of his office as the non-executive chairman of the 2nd defendant.

“The sum of N100,000,000,000 (One Hundred Billion Naira) damages for the wrongful removal, disruption and interruption of the term of office of the plaintiff as the non-executive chairman of the 2nd defendant.”

Justice Ekwo has therefore  fixed 15th December, 2022, for further hearing of the suit and ordered that the amended originating summons be served on parties involved  before the adjourned date.
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