A group Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (CEDEHUR).on Tuesday stormed the National Assembly gate to protest against the appointment of Mr. Ola Olukoyede as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Armed with their protest letter titled “Petition on the Recent Appointment of Mr. Ola Olukoyede as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Contrary to the Extant Laws, the (Establishment) Act 2004 of the Commission” they sought to address the Senate President on Tuesday.
The petition signed by Adebayo Lion Ogorry (National Secretary) CEDEHUR said they wrote to draw the attention of the Senate President “to the gross violation of the extant law”, which is the EFCC Establishment Act (2004) by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in appointing Mr. Ola Olukayede as Chairman of the Commission on Thursday, October 12, 2023.
The group described the action of President Tinubu in making the appointment of Mr. Olukoyede into such a high office with enormous responsibility as the Chairman of the EFCC in fragrant breach of the provisions of the laws of the parliament as “contrary to the oath he took on May 29, 2023 to protect and defend the laws of the nation”.
Noting the importance of the EFCC Extant law as “sacrosanct” CEDEHUR underscored the need for it to be strictly adhered to before going ahead to appoint a chairman for the Commission.
“President Tinubu, as the number one citizen, whose office is the creation of the law, needs to comply with the EFCC Extant Laws and not be seen to set a wrong precedence for successive administrations in making his appointment, which can slip the country into a state of anarchy”.
The group said in their quest to see that the right thing is done, they have made its findings on who qualifies to be the Executive Chairman of the EFCC in accordance with the laws and came to the conclusion that the provision of the EFCC Establishment Act, 2004 (1): “The Commission shall consist of the following members-(a) A chairman, who shall- (1) be the Chief Executive and Accounting officer of the Commission, (ii) be a serving or retired member of any government security or law enforcement agency not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police or equivalent; and (iii) Possess not less than 15 years cognate experience”.
“The provision above is very clear and unambiguous. The functions of the EFCC are not civil in nature. Hence it is a paramilitary organization. That is the rationale behind the inclusion of the police ranking system and its equivalent in other law enforcement agencies as one of the prerequisites for attaining the position of the Executive Chairman” CEDEHUR said.
“Secondly, the person sought to be appointed must not only be a member of the law enforcement family, he must also have 15 years cognate experience. In other words, the person must have the knowledge, skills and abilities in the professional law enforcement activity.
“This section simply means that not all members of the police force, other Forces and indeed the EFCC can be the Executive Chairman of the EFCC. A pilot, medical personnel, Admin officer, etc who have 15 years police or paramilitary service, are ordinarily devoid of the cognate experience of enforcing the laws of the EFCC.
“This much is gleaned from Section 8 (5) of the EFCC Act which states that: “…..all officers involved in the enforcement of the Act shall have the same powers, authorities, privileges (including power to bear arms) as are given by law to members of the Nigerian Police”.
“To further buttress this point, the EFCC simply identified the officers who are beneficiaries of Section 8 (5) of the EFCC Act and issued them with a warrant card. Evidently, the officers who do not possess a warrant card are not regarded as equivalent to police officers as envisioned by the EFCC Establishment Act.
“To put it in context, there are various members of the law enforcement agencies and Military organisations that are civilians and cannot take on the headship. Examples of these abound in the Nigerian Army and Nigerian Police Force. A person who serves in the EFCC as Chief of Staff (personal staff of the Chairman) or secretary has no law enforcement training as envisioned by the EFCC Act. Just like, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) may consider appointing a non-Police personnel in his office to carry out certain work.
“That does not make the civilian a member of the Police Force in the context of appointment to the headship. Also, a civilian Police pay officer who works with the Police does not become a member of the Police force in the context of appointment as IGP.
“Any appointment that is contrary to the provisions of the Extant EFCC Establishment Act is an assault on the National Assembly which is the constitutional organ responsible for making laws.
According to the petition, “if the Executive is uncomfortable with a provision, the appropriate action will be to beckon on the National Assembly to amend or repeal such provisions. To let such Infractions slide is a call to anarchy.
“From our investigation, he (Olukoyede) was appointed as Chief of staff to the erstwhile Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, and he served in that ⁷⁷⁶l from 2016 to 2018. He was later appointed the Commission Secretary and he served in that capacity from 2018 to 2019 before he was suspended from Office, and we gathered that same indicted both principal officers were never re-absorbed back to the Commission.
“Dramatically, Olukoyede has been appointed as the new Executive Chairman of EFCC, and we also gathered he was recently invited by the EFCC, and have been reliably informed that his offences has been written off, while his salaries and benefits suspended will be all paid while he was on suspension.
“In fact, we are all aware of Olukoyede spending eight years at the Commission between 2016 to 2023. We also queried that how did he manufactured additional 15 cognate years experience as contained in as required by law to as contained in Section 2 (1)(iii) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Establishment Act, 2004.
“It is against this backdrop that we write the petition and calling you to use your office to give this appointment the proper scrutiny it deserves and stop the flagrant disregard and breach of the provisions of the extant laws of the EFCC Establishment Act 2004.
They expressed the believe the Senate will give their petition the “prompt action it deserves and save our nation from anarchy”.
Stakeholders in FCT Area Councils, Share N4,966bn allocation
The six Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and other stakeholders have received the sum of N4,966, 217, 872.99 as share of statutory allocation for the month of October, 2023.
Special adviser on Media to the FCT Minister of State, Austine Elemue in a statement on Monday indicated that the ministed
FCT Minister of State, Dr. Mariya Mahmoud, presided over the 182nd Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC), meeting he quoted the minister to have commended members for their attendance and their invaluable contributions over the years.
She, also used the occasion to appeal to the Department of Outdoors Advertisement and Signage (DOAS) to work in synergy with the six area council authorities with a view to improving revenue generation in the territory.
The minister who cautioned against friction among the revenue generating departments, however, observed that with collaboration, the Administration stands to gain more in its internal revenue generation.
The breakdown of the figures released during the JAAC meeting indicates that the sum of N2,434,932,198.95 was made available for distribution to the six area councils, while the sum of N2,531,285,674.04 was made available to other stakeholders, bringing the total sum to N4,966,217,872.99.
Similarly, distributions to the six area councils shows that the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), received N517,549709.29, while Gwagwalada got N407,277,974.82 and Kuje received N445,799,336.65.
Other area councils include, Bwari Area Council which received N390,047,987.63, Abaji got N363,856,716.08 while Kwali received N406,753,949.57 bringing the total sum to N2,531,285,674.04 disbursed to the six area councils.
On the other hand, distribution to other critical stakeholders include: Primary School Teachers which gulped N2,050,941,625.03, 15 percent Pension Funds took N226,478,989.57, One percent Training Fund gulped N49,662,178.73, while 10 percent Employer Pension Contribution gulped N107,849,405.63, bringing the total sum to N2,434,932,198.95.
Those present at the 182nd Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) meeting include the FCTA Permanent Secretary, Mr. Olusade Adesola, Mandate Secretary Area Council Services, Hon. Bitrus Garki, and the Director of Finance and Administration in Area Council Secretariat, Mrs. Omolola Olanipekun.
Others include the Chairman of Kwali area council, Hon. Danladi Chiya, Chairman of Abuja Municipal Area Council, Hon. Christopher Zaka, Chairman of Gwagwalada Area Councils, Hon. Abubakar Giri, amongst others.
AGF worries over delayed releases for 2023 Budget affecting performance
***advocates for funds to charter aircraft to convey judges for their safety
The Attorney General of the Federation and minister of Justice Lateef O. Fagbemi has raised concern that his ministry only got releases for Capital expenditure in the 2023 budget on the 1st of December 2023, less than 30 days to the end of the fiscal year.
The minister who spoke on Monday when he appeared before the senate committee on Judiciary said in the outgoing budget cycle for 2023, the Ministry was allocated N3,321,283.533.00 as Capital Budget and N4,688,847,054.00 as Recurrent Budget.
He said with less than 30 days to the end of the financial year, the Ministry has only had releases of N617,456,896.00 for capital expenditure and N2,734,110,775.62 for recurrent expenditure.
The senator Muhammed Tahiru Munguno led committee on judiciary was taken aback with revelations from the Minister as they asked rhetorically whether the budget has failed and will be pushed forward to the 2024 Budget as there is no way Capital projects can be executed in Less than 30 days to the end of 2023.
They therefore asked the minister to take a bow and go as there is more work for the committee.
Continuing, the minister said the foregoing has greatly constrained the performance of the Ministry in its mandate areas adding that they are quite determined to achieve a paradigm shift in 2024, wherein the Ministry has been allocated N5,341,356,849.00 as
capital expenditure and N8,860,880,311.10 as recurrent expenditure in the 2024 budget proposal.
“From my first-hand assessment of the justice sector upon assumption of office, it Is obvious to me that a major challenge in the sector is underfunding.
“This critical sector requires significant Investments for us to drive the much-needed legal and judicial reforms, achieve Satisfactory compliance with human rights, democratic governance, the rule of law, etc.”
Making reference to the Budget speech presented by President Bola Tinubu, he said emphasis was placed on defence, security, law enforcement, property and investments, amongst other critical areas.
“These are areas wherein the relevance and role of the Federal Ministry of Justice are being under estimated
“I wish to reiterate the fact that in furtherance of the constitutional mandate of the Attorney-General of the Federation as the Chief Law Officer of the Federation, the Ministry has been providing legal and non-kinetic support for combating insecurity through counter-terrorism and anti-money laundering measures, prosecution and proscription of persons involved in terrorism, and other high-profile crimes.
“Our administration is keen on promoting investments and creating opportunities for economic development. For this to be achieved, a reliable, consistent and developed legal system is a sine qua non.
“The Ministry has since transitioned from its traditional roles to playing active roles in the economy and security sectors through the strategic deployment of the instrumentality of the law. In order for the nation to derive maximum benefits from the functions and potentials of the Ministry, there is a dire need for an upward review of funding for the Ministry and by extension the funds earmarked or proposed as Capital and Recurrent (Overhead) Expenditures for the Ministry in the 2024 Budget Proposal.
He highlighted some of the critical mandate areas of the Ministry for which it is pleading with the committee to empower the Ministry with further legislative and budgetary support.
“It is quite fundamental for the Ministry to be empowered to drive the current administration’s roadmap for the justice sector (legal and judicial reforms) which is one of the vital priority areas under the President’s eight Priorities/Focus Areas.
“The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation requires funding to perform its role of coordinating and oversighting the entire legal or justice sector institutions in Nigeria.
“The Attorney-General of the Federation is also saddled with onerous responsibilities in the implementation of vital legislations including the Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022, Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022, Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Act, 2022, Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, Cybercrime (Prohibition and Prevention, etc.) Act, 2015, Extradition Act, etc and other international treaty obligations.
He noted that the process of proscription and prosecution of terror suspects and entities entails considerable funding inclusive of catering for the logistics and welfare of judges, prosecutors, support staff, witnesses, and provision of security for the trial, etc.
“In order to ensure the security and confidence of the judicial officers coupled with the location of the trial, the Ministry is required to charter aircrafts to air lift them.
“The Ministry is also spending considerable resources on provision or upgrading of infrastructural facilities at the various venues to make them fit for purpose.
“Whilst the Ministry has been promoting the policy of having State Counsels in the Ministry handle more cases on behalf of the government, there are instances where the need to engage senior external solicitors becomes inevitable.
“Thus, greater funding is required to increase the capacity and boost the moral of State Counsels through regular payment of duty tour allowances, robe allowances, etc,
“The professional fees of the private solicitors also need to be settled, The Ministry is also involved in defending the country in international litigation and arbitration which are by their nature very expensive to prosecute or defend in terms of payment of administrative fees to tribunals, professional fees to solicitors, expert fees, etc.
“These cases usually arise after the closure of the budget preparation and passage process, which means the Ministry is unable to make specific budgetary request for funding the cases. There is therefore a need for the Ministry to be provided with adequate funding line or reserve to address these cases.
He explained further that there are already backlogs of obligations which needs to be cleared in order to sustain the current efforts of the Ministry in reducing government’s exposure to judgment debts as well as ensuring that implementation of government policies/projects are not hindered by litigation. It is to be noted that some of the unpaid claims unfortunately have been outstanding since 2007.
“The Ministry is also currently defending over – 2000 cases, with huge potential liabilities, on behalf of FGN and its MDAs. These cases require diligent prosecution and effective defence to avoid embarrassment and enforcement actions.
Earlier, the Chairman of Senate Committee on Judiciary, Mohammmed Mongonu (Borno North) said the main aim of the meeting was to ask the Minister to give them a review of the 2023 budget in line with the constitutional responsibility that gives the parliament the power to oversight ministries departments and agencies (MDAs) with a view to ensure that Nigerians get value for money and to ensure transparency and accountability in the utilisation of funds that were given to you.
He assured that the Committee will work with the office of Attorney General to review the laws of the federation because laws are not supposed to be static, they are supposed to be organic that supposed to change with the changing society.
“Laws are organic and not supposed to be static. Most of our laws are obsolete hence the Senate is to work closely with the office of the AGF to review our laws that are outdated or repeal.”
Protesters vow to occupy Nasarawa till Supreme Court delivers justice
Coalition of women groups has vowed to continue in their struggle to demand for justice until the Supreme Court deliver justice in the governorship dispute in Nasarawa state.
The group in their doggedness embarked on four kilometers match from the ‘Welcome to Lafia’ entry gate carrying placards with different inscriptions, Count every vote, protect democracy in Nasarawa State, injustice kills democracy, Appeal Court has failed us, Supreme Court review BVAS records of Gayam and Ciroma Electoral Wards.
The group included Nasarawa Indigenous Peoples Movement, (NIPM) Wind of Transformations, (WOT), Nasarawa State Christian/Muslim Coalition for Peace.
From Daniel Abel, Lafia
Speaking at the end of the protest, Helen Dalyop said they have been on the streets for the past six months demanding for their rights since the wrong pronouncement of the result of governorship election in March.
She said that they were called all categories of provocative names, but that does not mean anything to them because they are all responsible parents.
She added that nobody is sponsoring them and they were doing all this because of the love they have for the state and for better future.
“We are out on a peaceful protest and prayer seeking God’s intervention on our matter and we believe that we will smile at last.
Mummy Barau from Akwanga Local Government Area said they transport themselves everyday from Akwanga to Lafia just to ensure that they liberate themselves and thier children.
She added that they had voted for David Ombugadu of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the March 18 governorship election and not Gov. Abdullahi Sule of All Progressives Congress (APC).
She explained that if votes would not count then what is the essence of wasting tax payers money in conducting elections.
Similarly, Juliana Affiku from Lafia called on the Supreme Court to review the BVAS records of Gayam and Ciroma Electoral Wards of Lafia before passing its judgment to ensure that justice is seen to have been done.
She appealed to judges of the apex court to save democracy from collapse by refusing to succumb to pressure from any person or group of persons in compromise.
It could be recalled that the Appeal Court sitting in Abuja on Thursday, November 23 had set aside the judgment of the tribunal of Oct. 2 and declared Gov. Abdullahi Sule of All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of March 18 governorship election.
The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party had since filed an appeal at the Supreme Court challenging the verdict to the Court of Appeal.
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