President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s appointment of Ola Olukoyede as the new Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has sparked controversy among legal practitioners, with some indicating their intent to challenge the appointment.
The announcement of Olukoyede’s appointment for an initial four-year term, subject to Senate confirmation, was confirmed in a statement by the President’s spokesperson, Ajuri Ngelale. The meeting followed the resignation of the suspended former EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa.
However, several legal practitioners have reservations about the appointment, citing concerns about Olukoyede’s qualifications. Senior Advocate of Nigeria Sani Katu was among those who questioned the work, highlighting that the process seemed to flout the requirements specified in the EFCC Act.
According to Katu, the appointment must adhere to the Act’s regulations, which stipulate that the appointee must be a retired or serving officer of a rank similar to an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP). He expressed the possibility of challenging the appointment in court, emphasizing the need for compliance with the law in such matters.
Lawyers’ Criticism of President Tinubu’s Appointment of Olukoyede as EFCC Chairman
Another Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, criticized the Nigerian Senate for allegedly disregarding the legalities of the appointment. The legal practitioner described the Senate as a “rubber-stamp” institution, suggesting that the selection compromised the EFCC’s integrity.
In defence of the appointment, Victor Opara, SAN, cited Section 2 of the EFCC Act, asserting that Olukoyede’s background in the EFCC met the legal criteria for the position. He emphasized that Olukoyede’s previous roles within the commission aligned with the Act’s requirements, validating his appointment.
Despite the conflicting views on Olukoyede’s qualifications, ActionAid Nigeria’s Country Director, Andrew Mamedu, criticized the appointment, deeming it a violation of the EFCC Act. He stressed the importance of upholding the rule of law and called on the National Assembly to intervene and ensure the integrity of the institutions is preserved.
In response to the criticisms, President Tinubu’s spokesperson, Ajuri Ngelale, defended Olukoyede’s appointment, citing provisions in the EFCC Act that support the choice. He highlighted Olukoyede’s experience within the EFCC meeting the necessary criteria, indicating that the convention had previously led to internal issues within the commission.
As the debate unfolds, the legal challenge to Olukoyede’s appointment is poised to test the interpretation of the EFCC Act, raising fundamental questions about the appointment processes for critical positions within the EFCC.
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