Civil Rights Advocacy Group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has faulted President Bola Tinubu’s recent reconstitution of the management board of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, saying it breached a binding judgement of a competent court of law.
Addressing a press conference, the National Coordinator of HURIWA who spoke on behalf of HURIWA and a coalition of ten non-governmental bodies, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko asserted that it was illegal for the president to have made the announcement when he was aware that the Federal government had appealed a Federal High Court’s judgement which invalidated the removal of Senator Ifeanyi Ararume as chairman of NNPC Ltd on inception.
HURIWA: “The rule of law is the cornerstone of any democratic society, and its principles must be upheld at all times.
“The recent appointments announced by President Tinubu raise serious concerns about the commitment of the federal government to abide by the rule of law, especially when there is ongoing litigation related to the NNPC board.
“Firstly, we acknowledge the president’s authority to make appointments under Section 59(2) of the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021. However, the timing of these appointments, amidst a legal dispute over the removal of Senator Ararume, is not only questionable but also constitutes a clear affront to the rule of law.
“In the case of Ifeanyi Ararume vs. President Muhammadu Buhari, the Federal High Court in Abuja declared Ararume’s removal as the non-executive chairman of NNPC as wrongful and ordered his reinstatement. This decision is binding until set aside by a competent court.
“The question that begs an answer is: Where is the respect for the rule of law when the federal government, through President Tinubu, proceeds to make new appointments while the appeal filed against the court’s decision is still pending and subsisting? This action is not only a disregard for the judicial process but also a display of lawlessness and impunity.
“The doctrine of ‘sub judice,’ which prohibits discussing the merits of a case that is already before a court, is well established in our legal jurisprudence. It is intended to prevent interference with the judicial process and ensure that parties receive a fair and unbiased adjudication. President Tinubu’s decision to make new appointments in the NNPC during the pendency of an appeal is a clear violation of this doctrine.”
HURIWA also posited that the principle of ‘stare decisis’ dictates that the decisions of a court are binding on all inferior courts and authorities, adding that the federal government, by making new appointments despite the court’s ruling in Ararume’s case, is undermining the authority of the judiciary and setting a dangerous precedent.
HURIWA called for a reversal of the recent appointments in the NNPC pending the determination of the appeal in Senator Ararume’s case.
“We urge President Tinubu and the federal government to respect the rule of law, adhere to the principles of sub judice, and uphold the sanctity of judicial decisions.
“The legal process must be allowed to run its course without interference, and any attempt to circumvent the rule of law should be vehemently condemned,” it said.