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South/South People threatened to Sue Saraki Over illegal reversal of the Confirmation of NCC Nominee

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President of the Senate 

Office of the Senate President 

4th Floor, New Senate Wing, 

National Assembly Complex, Three Arms Zone, PMB 141. Abuja.

Hon. Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.

Shehu Shagari Way, Central Area

Abuja FCT Abuja +234 Nigeria

Re: The Non-Confirmation of Okoi Obono Obla.

We represent Pastor Onun Eyong Ubi of Lewankom 3, Ketabebe, Ugep, and Samuel Ebri Onen of Ijiman Ugep, both of Cross River State on whose joint instructions we write you this pre-action letter about a proposed legal claim against you for the following:

A declaration that the decision of the Senate President contained in a letter to the President of Nigeria dated 22nd November 2016, which circumvented or reversed the Senate approval or confirmation of Chief Okoi Ofem Obono Obla at the plenary sitting of the Senate of 17th November 2016 as nominee to the post of a non -executive Commissioner of Nigeria Communication Commission {NCC} board was an unlawful decision.

A declaration that upon a proper interpretation of the Senate’s Rules 2015, precedents, and the plenary proceedings of 17th November 2017 as well as Sections 7 and 8 of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003;  Chief Okoi Ofem Obono Obla having been duly confirmed and approved as a non-executive Commissioner of the Nigeria Communication Commission [NCC] board by a simple majority vote of Senate members’ present on 17th November 2016 sitting, such legal decision cannot be reversed by any other means otherwise than on the floor of the senate deliberating on the issue.

A declaration that in exercising its powers and responsibilities both the Constitution and Standing Rules of the Senate regulate the Senate, therefore, failure to comply with the requisite provisions relating to procedure will render any outcome or decision illegal and unconstitutional.

The basis of our clients intending claim is: 

Our clients are indigenes of Ugep, Yakurr local government area of Cross River State, geographically considered and designated as part of the South- South of Nigeria; an area which Chief Okoi Ofem Obono Obla was nominated by the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria to represent on the board of the Nigeria Communication Commission.

President Muhammad Buhari presented to the Senate for confirmation, Chief Okoi Ofem Obono Obla along with others on the 2nd August, 2016 as non-executive Commissioner to represent the South-South geo-political zone of Nigeria on the Board of the NCC in accordance with Section 8(1) of the Nigerian Communications Commission Act 2003.

That the unlawful refusal to transmit Chief Okoi Obono Obla’s confirmation status approved on the floor of the Senate Plenary sitting of 17th November 2016 to the President for inauguration on the said commission denied our clients as indigenes of the South-South within the 6 geo-political zones of Nigeria specified by law, their rightful and equitable representation on the NCC Board.

That the leadership of the senate had no powers to overturn a   Senate’s approval of Chief Okoi Ofem Obono Obla’s nomination secured on the plenary Senate sitting of 17th November 2016, by a mere letter from the office of the Senate President without referring the matter to the whole house for further deliberations and vote.

That no further nomination should be made and confirmed by the Senate to represent the South-South in the Board of NCC until our clients’ representative, Chief Okoi Ofem  Obono Obla serves the required term as a non-executive Commissioner following his confirmation by the Senate.

The facts upon which our client relies are as follows: –

On 2nd of August 2016, Chief Okoi Obono Obla was amongst others nominated by President as a non-executive commissioner to represent the South-South geo-political zone in the Nigeria Communication Commission {NCC}

 The Senate committee on communication screened him on the 19th October 2016 and on the 17th November 2016 the Report of the senate Committee was presented before the plenary session of the Senate by the chair of the committee Senator Gilbert Emeka Nnaji

That the committee confirmed his performance as a highly-qualified person to be a Non-Executive Commissioner of the NCC. The Senate on 17th November 2016, in plenary session confirmed the nomination of Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye (Chairman); Sunday Dare (Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders Management); Clement Omeiza Baiye (Non-Executive Commissioner); Senator Ifeanyi Ararume (Non-Executive Commissioner) and Chief Okoi Ofem Obono-Obla (Non-Executive Commissioner) after considering a report of the Committee on Communication headed by Senator Gilbert.

Consequently, the senate unanimously confirmed Chief Okoi Ofem Obono Obla’s nomination by majority voice votes and published on pages 889-891 of The Federal Republic of Nigeria Senate Hansard of Thursday 17th November 2016 and also made public in National electronic media and print media

In a twist of events, the Senate President in a letter dated 22nd November 2016 to President Buhari titled ‘Confirmation of Appointment’ Chief Okoi Ofem Obono Obla was listed as one of the those that was not confirmed by the Senate. The other nominees the Senate also rejected were Aliyu Saidu Abubakar and Pastor Ezekiel Yissa..

That on the 11th January 2017 other nominees confirmed by the senate were inaugurated while our clients’ representative- Chief Okoi Ofem Obono Obla was left out of the exercise performed by the Hon Minister of Communication thus rendering the south-south zone unrepresented on the Nigeria Communication Commission [NCC].

The details of matters to which the Court would have regard under Rule of the Senate as far as they are known to our client are: – 

When the question has been put after the debate or presentation of a nominee, voices Ayes and Noes shall take the votes. The result of such voice vote shall be declared by the President of the Senate if no member claims a division and serve as the final decision of the Senate on that matter or issue before it.

Any other matter.

In accordance with pre-action protocol, we look forward to receiving a letter of response, enclosing the documents in your possession and relevant to the claim within 14 days. We believe that the following documents relevant to the claim are likely to be in your possession: 

The record of Senate proceedings of 17th November 2016

Video recording of the Senate day’s business of 17th November 2016

Record of Proceedings upon which the decision to disqualify Chief Okoi Ofem Obono Obla was taken by the Senate as shown in the Senate Presidents letter of 22nd November 2016.

We wish to conclude that there was therefore a valid Senate confirmation of Chief Okoi Obono Obla as a nominee of the Nigeria Communication Commission NCC by President of Federal Republic of Nigeria as required by law and denying him the right to sit on that commission would be unconscientious and equally you are under the law estopped from going back on a decision reached by Senate plenary session without following the due processes allowed by law.

 To resolve this matter, we will request that you proceed with transmitting a letter confirming the decision reached by the senate on the 17th November 2016 concerning the nomination and confirmation of Chief Okoi Obono Obla as Non-Executive Commissioner of the Nigeria Communication Commission forthwith to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. 

Please contact us within 14 days of the date of this letter with specific instructions for resolution of our clients’ request and very much appreciate a favourable response, as our client would look to litigation only as a last resort. 

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter..                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Yours faithfully,

Uket O. Ifere

For: Klearly Legal & Partners.

Cc 

The Secretary to the Government

Federal Republic of Nigeria. Three Arms Zone. Shehu Shagari Way. Abuja.

Hon Minister of Communication

Federal Ministry of Communication Technology

1181 Aguiyi Ironsi St, Maitama, Abuja, Nigeria

Clerk of the Senate 

National Assembly Complex, Three Arms Zone, PMB 141. Abuja.

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