NNPCL Board Chair: Group urges FG to obey court judgment on Ararume’s reinstatement

A front-line Nigerian civil society group, Justice Now Coalition!, has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria, to obey the judgment of Federal High Court that reinstated Senator Ifeanyi Godwin Ararume as non-executive chairman of the Board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL.

The group said that it is better to consider giving effect to the judgment of that Federal High Court than heading to the Court of Appeal to challenge the judgment, because it will prompt faceless civil society groups to be demeaning the temple of justice and the rule of law on account of the court judgment.

In a statement signed by its National Convener, Comrade Tony Erha, the group said that obeying the judgment of the court was a better and more preferred option, in the circumstance, saying appealing the judgment should be treated as a distant alternative option.

According to the group, appealing the judgment would only delay the matter and keep it on the front burner such that it would restrain the international oil companies (IOCs) from investing their total commitment in the country’s oil sector that has virtually been rendered tentative and unstable by the court action.

Read the group’s appeal: “The Federal Government should take the window of opportunity provided by the Federal High Court judgment to correct its mischief and put an end to the issue once and for all.

“Afterall, Senator Godwin Ifeanyi Araraume was a director in the board of NNPCL before he was simultaneously appointed as the non-executive chairman, thus enjoying the privilege of having his name in the company’s records with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

“Araraume remains a part of the NNPCL family in the face of the law. All issues settled in his favour in the judgment can be quietly revisited and resolved in ways that there will be no losers at the end of the day.

“This is the best way to go about quick restoration of the Board of the NNPCL to normalcy. The government cannot pretend not to know that all is not well with the NNPCL, especially now with the specific order nullifying all the decisions and resolutions taken by the Board in the absence of Senator Araraume from January 17, 2022 when he was removed as non-executive chairman of the Board.

“We understand that Araraume is a committed member of the ruling All Progressives Congress. We also understand that he was an appointee of President Muhammadu Buhari, as a federal commissioner at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), where he represented the Southeast zone from 2016-2018, a position he held after he passed rigorous security checks by the Police and the Department of State Services.

“That being the case, we believe that this issue can be resolved in-house in the interest of his party, government and the nation, so that the NNPCL can be surefooted forthwith in its operations and dealings with the IOCs, whose confidence the new national energy company must enjoy, more than ever before, to thrive.

“Let it be made it clear that a mischief was allowed to escape but that with the judicial intercession, steps will be taken or are being taken to cure the mischief in line with the enforceable orders as contained in the judgment of the Federal Hight Court delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo.”

The group said it decided to weigh in against the backdrop of sundry calls by some groups who have been stoking the fire of animosity between the Federal Government and Senator Araraume, whom some said should not have gone to court in the first instance.

Besides, some groups had also erroneously claimed that by reinstating Araraume, the Court had usurped the powers of President Muhammadu Buhari to hire and fire, a claim that is clearly not in tandem with the due process of removing a member of the Board of the NNPCL as circumscribed by the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021 and other extant laws.

The group said as soon as President Buhari hired Araraume, he (Buhari) became functus officio, thus leaving the firing of Araraume in the hands of the Board of the company in accordance with the provisions of the PIA and other extant laws.

The Justice Now Coalition!, comprising NGOs, gender, youths/students and worker’s group, however, said it would stop at nothing to mobolise “our people in a prolonged public action against those who are bent on circumventing the rule of law” in an unconscionable bid to discount the essence of the judiciary arm of government, which the courts typified.