Youths in Katsina State under the auspices of Katsina Youths for Sustainable Change, has condemned the suspension of the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman, describing it as unlawful and unconstitutional.
The youths equally called on President Muhammadu Buhari to disband the 11-man investigative panel inaugurated by the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, to probe the suspended NPA managing director.
They described the investigative panel as Kangaroo board of inquiry singlehandedly picked by Amaechi “from his cronies in order to unjustly nail his victim”.
The group, through its counsel, Chief E. O. Obunadike, at a press conference in Katsina Wednesday, said the NPA boss was suspended from office without constitutional rights to fair hearing as enshrined in section 36 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Bala-Usman was suspended by President Muhammadu Buhari following allegations of non-remittance of N165 billion surplus revenue to the coffers of government, an allegation denied by the suspended MD.
Following Bala-Usman’s suspension, Amaechi had last Monday, inaugurated an 11-man investigative panel to probe the books of the agency.
But Obunadike, who spoke on behalf of the youths, said the suspension of Bala-Usman contravened the Approved Disciplinary Procedure Against Chief Executive Officers of Federal Government Parastatals, Agencies and Departments approved by President Buhari on May 2020.
He said: “From the information available in the public space, at no time was Hadiza Bala Usman queried or invited to provide explanations for any discrepancies that may have been allegedly noticed in the operations of the NPA before she was suspended from office.
“Media reports indicate that the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Ameachi, relying on some unsubstantiated information from the budget office about some alleged non-remittance and without recourse to hearing from the MD of the Nigerian Port Authority, surreptitiously wrote and complained to the president to get the managing director suspended.
“From these entire facts made available to us, we humbly submit that the minister’s action is unconstitutional, illegal and runs contrary to right to fair hearing and at the same time, in sharp conflict with the approved disciplinary procedure against chief executive officers of federal government parastatals, agencies and departments.”
According to him, the constitution of the investigative panel by Ameachi against the suspended managing director of NPA, runs contrary to the principles of fair hearing as contained in the constitution of Nigeria, and violate democratic norms and practices.
He, therefore, admonished President Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami, to immediately intervene into what he termed flagrant breach of the fundamental rights of Bala-Usman.