Despite the ongoing investigation of a probe panel against the embattled Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Hadiza Bala-Usman, President Muhammadu Buhari has confirmed that the appointment of the erstwhile NPA boss has been terminated.
President Buhari stated this on 12th of July in an affidavit he submitted at the Federal High Court in Lagos, in response to a suit instituted against him by Elder Asu Beks, a maritime media chief executive.
The affidavit which was filed as Buhari’s preliminary objection was signed by Agan Tabitha, Civil Litigation Department of the Federal Ministry of Justice Abuja on behalf of Buhari’s Counsel; Mrs. Maimuna Lami Shiru and Mrs C.I Nebo.
Recall that Asu Beks and two other plaintiffs; Mr. Tompra Abarowei and Mr Miebi Senge on Thursday, March 25, 2021 filed the suit challenging the powers of President Muhammadu Buhari to unlawfully constitute the board of the NPA, as well as appointment of its Executive Directors without recourse to the statutory provisions of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Act.
Elder Beks, Chief Executive Officer of Maritime Media Limited, Publishers of Shipping World Magazine also joined the embattled Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman in the suit, saying that Buhari prematurely reappointed, six clear months before her tenure expires.
Meanwhile, the President had in May 2021 approved the suspension of Hadiza as NPA boss, while NPA’s executive director of finance and administration, Mohammed Bello-Koko was named to lead the organisation in acting capacity.
The suspension was to allow a probe of allegations of improprieties against Ms. Usman to take place unhindered. The probe is at the instance of the supervising transport ministry, headed by Rotimi Amaechi.
However, in his response to the court, the president argued that “The alleged reappointment of the 3rd Defendant (Hadiza Bala Usman) upon which this Court is being called upon to adjudicate has since been terminated by the 1st Defendant (Buhari) and the instant suit overtaken by the event of that termination”
He also argued that the plaintiffs, Asu Beks and Co, have no “locus standi” to institute the suit in the first place and that the Federal High Court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
Buhari also argued that the suit against him by Elder Asu Beks has become purely academic, and “That it is in the interest of Justice to dismiss the plaintiffs suit in its entirety or against the first defendant”
“We submit that it is clear from the Plaintiff‘s affidavit, the questions for determination as well as the reliefs sought. it is obvious that the Plaintiff neither suffered any injury as a result of the act or omission of the 1st Defendant”
“It is also evident that the claim against the Defendants is that the court should declare the alleged action of the 1st Defendant re-appointing, nominating and setting up of board of NPA illegal as it contravenes section 2 and 10 NPA Act Cap N126, LFN 2004, even without stating that they have suffered any personal damage beyond any other person as a result of the said appointment”
“My Lord. it is our submission that the Plaintiffs here does not possess the requisite locus standi to institute this action. Locus sandi denotes the right of a party to institute an action in a court of law”
In the suit number FHC/L/CS/485/2021, filed by Asu Beks through his lawyer, Mr. Mike Ozekhome (SAN) apart from President Buhari, other defendants in the court action are the Minister of Transportation, the Managing Director of the NPA, Ms Hadiza Bala Usman and the Chairman, Board of NPA, Mr. Emmanuel Adesoye.
The suit is being heard before Justice Tujjani Garba Ringim of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi
The plaintiffs held that the newly constituted Board of NPA has no Representative of the Ministry of Transportation as enshrined in the statues of the NPA Act and that it reflected complete disregard for professionalism and requisite expertise in shipping and ancillary maritime matters for its members.