Buhari asks court to dismiss Araraume’s suit against his removal as NNPC board chair
President Muhammadu Buhari has filed a Notice of Preliminary Objection (NPO) challenging the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, Abuja, to entertain the suit by Senator Ifeanyi Araraume on his alleged illegal removal as a non-executive chairman of the board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL).
The NPO was filed on December 8, 2022, by the Acting Director, Civil Litigation and Public Law Department, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Maimuna Lami Shiru.While Ararume is the sole plaintiff in the suit, Buhari, the NNPCL and the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) were the first, second and third defendants respectively.
Besides the President, the NNPCL, also filed its notice of preliminary objection challenging the competence of the suit and praying the court to make an order dismissing it; or, in the alternative, make an order striking out Araraume’s originating summons dated September 12, 2022; or make such further order or orders as it (the court) may deem to make in the circumstances.In its NPO filed on its behalf by its team of lawyers led by Konyin Ajayi, Etigwe Uwa, the second defendant amongst others predicated its request on the grounds that Araraume’s action was statute-barred having regard of Section 2 (A) of the Public Officers Protection Act Cap P41 LFN 2004
The NNPCL further submitted that Ararume’s suit constituted an abuse of court process being one that was not supported by law, having regard to the provisions of the Interpretation Act 2004; the Petroleum Industry Act 2021; the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020; and the Articles of Association of NNPCL.Besides, they averred that the suit was wrongly commenced by originating summons as the 75-paragraph affidavit in support thereof, raises inherently contentious facts; and the originating summons required proof by oral evidence; and that the plaintiff’s suit, as constituted, is incompetent , lacking in any cause of action; nor carrying any right of action, having regard to the Statutory powers of the 1st defendant/respondent implicated in this action.
Specifically, Buhari predicated his objection on three grounds, to wit: that the removal of Araraume (the plaintiff/respondent in the suit) as the non-executive chairman of NNPCL (2nd defendant/respondent) was done in his capacity as a Public Officer by virtue of Section 251 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended); that the suit was a statute barred action, which offended the provisions of Section 2(a) of the Public Officers Protection Act, 2004 with respect to his administrative acts or decisions made on January 17, 2022, being a period of about seven months prior to the filing of this suit on September 12, 2022; and on the grounds that the suit amounted to an abuse of court process, which ultimately deprived the court of the jurisdiction to entertain it.
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