22 August 2017

Nigeria: New Heads of ICPC, CCB, Pencom Heed Senate's Warning, Ignore Presidency's Directive

Amidst conflicting directives by the Executive and the Senate to the newly appointed heads of three key public institutions, the appointed officials are yet to assume office.

New heads were appointed by the presidency for the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB; the anti-graft agency, ICPC; and the National Pension Commission, PenCom.

Ali Usman was named the new Director-General of PENCOM; Mohammed Isah as Chairman of CCB and Bolaji Owasanoye as Chairman of ICPC.

On Friday, the presidency, through the office of the then acting president, Yemi Osinbajo, directed the new appointees to resume work in acting capacity pending their confirmation by the Senate.

The presidency said the directive was to avoid leadership vacuum in important federal institutions.

In what appears a continuation of the rift between the Senate and Executive, the Senate, in a statement on Saturday, countered the directive and advised the nominees to stay away until their nominations are confirmed by the lawmakers in accordance to the laws establishing the agencies.

PREMIUM TIMES was able to confirm that the nominees stayed away from work on Monday.

No official reason was given for their staying away from resumption, amidst the euphoria of President Muhammadu Buhari's resumption of duties after he returned to the country on Saturday. The president was in London for over 100 days on medical treatment, and held a meeting with Mr. Osinbajo and other top officials, hours after a nationwide broadcast on Monday morning.

The spokesperson of the ICPC, Rasheedat Okoduwa, confirmed that Mr. Owasanoye did not report for duty on Monday.

The CCB spokesperson could not be reached, but a top official of the agency confirmed that Mr. Isah did not assume duties.

"We all expected him today. But you know with this confusion between the presidency and the senate, no one can say for certain when he will resume," the official said asking not to be named as he was not authorised to speak on the matter.

The spokesperson for PENCOM, Emeka Onuoha, did not also pick calls to his phone, nor respond to SMS; but PREMIUM TIMES learnt the agency's new head, Mr. Usman, did not also assume duties.


The Presidency and the Senate have been at loggerheads over the role of the upper legislative chamber in confirming appointments into some federal agencies.

The disagreement began over the decision of the presidency to retain Ibrahim Magu as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in spite of the Senate twice declining to confirm his nomination.

To express its umbrage over the decision of the presidency on Mr. Magu, the Senate suspended its confirmation hearing on the persons nominated by the presidency as Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs.

But the Presidency stood its ground on Mr. Magu, with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who was holding forth for President Muhammadu Buhari then on medical vacation, further stoking the fury of the senators by declaring that he agreed with a legal advice that there was no need to send some presidential nominees to head certain agencies to the Senate for confirmation.

Although the Senate somewhat backed down by resuming confirmation hearing on the RECs, Senate President Bukola Saraki, said the upper chamber maintains its position that appointments into agencies that are creations of the laws of Parliament can only become valid when confirmed by the Senate. The Senate also said any such appointment, created by parliament but not expressly listed in the constitution, will not be treated by the Senate until Mr. Magu is removed.

It was against the backdrop of that conflict that the Senate on Saturday swiftly countermanded the directive by the acting president that the nominees should on Monday resume as heads of the three agencies.

With President Buhari resuming duties on Monday, he is expected to negotiate with the lawmakers to achieve an amicable solution.


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