Court Declares Removal of Senator Ifeanyi Araraume As NNPCL Chairman Illegal

The Federal High Court in Abuja, has declared all decisions taken by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) board since January last year as null and void due to wrongful dismissal of the Chairman, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume.

Justice Inyang Ekwo who delivered judgment, held that President Muhammadu Buhari’s removal of Senator Ifeanyi Araraume as the Chairman on January 17, 2022, was illegal.

The judge awarded N5 billion damages against President Buhari and NNPCL in favour of Araraume for his wrongful sack and the disruption of his appointment.

Justice Ekwo held that the President acted outside his powers in how he removed Ararume after using his name to register NNPCL, adding that such a brazen act cannot stand in the face of the law.

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The judge also held that by purporting to remove Ararume after he had resumed office, President Buhari acted arbitrarily and unlawfully.

The judge noted that although the President is vested with powers to remove directors of the organisation under Section 63 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), such powers were not absolute.

He added that the law stipulates conditions under which directors of the NNPCL could be sacked, adding that a breach of the conditions would automatically make any purported sack unlawful.

The judge held that in Ararume’s case, the Federal Government’s letter of January 17, 2022, signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) did not give any reason for his removal.

Justice Ekwo further held that the issue of contract fraud raised in the documents filed by the NNPCL, which cast doubt on the character, integrity and reputation of the plaintiff, was an afterthought.

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He found that such facts were not adduced in the letter that removed Araraume

The judge, who noted that the NNPCL only claimed to have obtained information about the alleged contract fraud against Ararume from online media, held that no probate value could be attached to such information by any court.

He held that even if the allegation was made in the proper way, the plaintiff must be confronted with it and be allowed to defend himself as required by law.

Justice Ekwo added that anything short of that would amount to a denial of fair hearing which, he noted, is against natural justice.

The judge ordered that Ararume be immediately restored to office as the non-Executive Chairman of the NNPCL.

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He restrained President Buhari from removing the plaintiff as a Director of the NNPCL and that his name must also not be removed as non-Executive Chairman of the organisation.

The judgment was on a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1629/2022 filed by Ararume to challenge his removal from office.

He prayed to be restored to office and sought N100 billion in damages.

He restrained President Buhari from removing the plaintiff as a Director of the NNPCL and that his name must also not be removed as non-Executive Chairman of the organisation.


Wahab Akinlade

Akinlade I. WAHAB is a dedicated journalist and the proprietor of I-WAHAB Media. He embarked on his career at Murhi International TV (MiTV) and subsequently joined Radio Nigeria as a Judicial Correspondent.With a profound interest in legal reporting, he currently holds the positions of Chairman at the National Association of Judicial Correspondents (NAJUC), Ikeja Branch, and Chairman at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Radio Nigeria Chapel.As the owner of I-WAHAB Media, he has successfully established Top Court News, a platform renowned for providing comprehensive coverage of court cases and legal developments, with the aim of promoting transparency within the judicial system.Akinlade's diligent work and unwavering commitment to ethical reporting have earned him immense respect within the Nigerian journalism community.

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