NNPCL Board: Araraume floors Buhari, as court voids removal as non-executive chairman

▪︎ Restored to office
▪︎ Awarded N5b in damages
▪︎ Judgment voids all decisions by board since removal

In a historic decision against a sitting President, Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court on Tuesday voided the removal of Senator Ifeanyi Godwin Araraume as non-executive chairman of the Board of the Nigeruan National Petroleum Company Lmited (NNPCL)

Ekwo, in an hour-long judgment, resolved all the four questions formulated for determination in Araraume’s amended originating summons in his favour.

As a prelude to the judgment, Justice Ekwo had first given rulings on the seven preliminary objections by the first, second and third defendants (President Muhammadu Buhari, NNPCL, and the Corporate Affairs Commission respectively).

He dismissed six of the objections as lacking in merit and liable to be dismissed and one of them as premature as it dealt directly with the substance of the originating summons and therefore could not be given in the course of the hearing.

The court answered all the four questions in the N100b suit filed against the federal government over his alleged unlawful removal as a non-Executive Chairman of the newly-incorporated NNPCL in the favour of the plaintiff (Araraume)- the first question in the positive, the second in the negative, the third in the negative and the fourth in the positive.

All the answers were in support of Araraume’s questions for determination which dovetailed into the grant of almost all the reliefs sought as presented before the court on his originating summons.

In the suit marked, FHC/ABJ/CS/691/2022, the former senator had formulated four issues for determination by the court.

One of the issues 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 was not governed and regulated by the stated provisions of the law.

Araraume had also asked the court to determine whether by the interpretation of Section 63 (3) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, the president could lawfully remove him as non executive chairman of the NNPCL for any reason outside the provisions of the law.

He further asked the court to determine whether the president could sack him without compliance with expressly stated provisions of the Articles of Memorandum of Association of the Company, Section 63 (3) of the PI Act 2021 and Section 288 of the CAMA Act 2020.

The former lawmaker asked the court for an order setting aside his removal via a letter of Jan. 17, 2022 with reference number SGF.3V111/86.

He also asked the court for an order reinstating him and restoring him to office with all the rights and privileges of the office of the NNPC non executive chairman.

Araraume had asked for N100 billion as damages caused him in the alleged unlawful and unconstitutional way and manner he was removed from the NNPC board after using his name to incorporate the entity.

The court on Tuesday voided his removal; restored him to his office with all benefits; nullified all decisions that were taken by the board of NNPCL on his absence; and was awarded N5b damages.

More details coming….

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