End of Era…At Last, President Buhari Sacks Hadiza Bala-Usman As NPA MD

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End of Era…At Last, President Buhari Sacks Hadiza Bala-Usman As NPA MD

End of Era…At Last, President Buhari Sacks Hadiza Bala-Usman As NPA MD
July 21
11:22 2021

The long protracted issue of suspension facing the embattled Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala-Usman, has been laid to rest, as President Muhammadu Buhari has confirmed that her appointment has been terminated.

In what is now a foregone conclusion, President Buhari made this known on 12th July in an affidavit he submitted at the Federal High Court in Lagos, while responding to a suit instituted against him by Elder Asu Beks, a maritime media chief executive.

Asu Beks, who is Chief Executive Officer of Maritime Media Limited, publishers of Shipping World Magazine, and two other plaintiffs, namely: Mr Tompra Abarowei and Mr Miebi Senge, had, 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 the appointment of its Executive Directors without recourse to the statutory provisions of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Act. The trio also joined the embattled Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman in the suit, saying that Buhari prematurely reappointed her, six clear months before her tenure expires.

In a move which sealed Bala-Usman fate, the sack bore the imprint and the backing of the Ministry of Justice, as 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.

Trouble started for the erstwhile NPA MD in May when President Buhari approved her suspension, as NPA’s executive director of finance and administration, Mohammed Bello-Koko was named to lead the organisation in an 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 plaintiff’s suit in its entirety or against the first defendant”

“We submit that it is clear from the Plaintiff‘s affidavit, the questions for a determination as well as the reliefs sought. It is obvious that 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 a 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 statutes of the NPA Act and that it reflected a complete disregard for professionalism and requisite expertise in shipping and ancillary maritime matters for its members.

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