…Workers petition Presidency, EFCC over tenure of chairman, board
From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Fresh crisis has rocked the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) over the alleged refusal of its Chairman, Sam Saba and nine Board members to vacate office two years after the expiration of their five-year tenure.
Available documents revealed that the Saba- led board members assumed office on April 30, 2010 and were expected to quit by 2015.
Beside the tenure elongation crisis, staff of the Bureau are reportedly murmuring over alleged misappropriation of about N2.5 billion by the Board members.
In a petition written by Fatoki Taiye Timmy in May, 2015, dubbed: ‘Corruption war Buhari must fight: A case study of Nigeria CCB”, alleged among others, that the Board members monetised their benefits, pocketing in the process N14 million each, conversion of six Toyota Corolla to personal use as well as an alleged misappropriation of N500 million.
Several other petitions have been written by aggrieved staff of the Bureau accusing Board members of perpetuating themselves in office against the provision of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, Section 155 (i) (c).
The aggrieved staff of the Bureau in their separate petitions to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Presidency, through the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and the National Assembly are calling for the probe of the matter as well as the easing out of the Board members.
Their letters of appointment dated 3rd June, 2010 with reference number SGF/19/S/24/C3/50 and signed by the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Muhmud Yayale Ahmed, clearly spelt out their tenure which he puts at five years in line with sections 154 (i) (c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
Another document revealed that Yakubu Tukur who had served as a Board member, had to leave in 2012 after his mandatory five-year tenure.
A memo dated 5th March, 2012, with reference number HAGF/CCB/2012/Vol.1/2 titled, ‘Re: tenure of Chairman and Board members of Code of Conduct Bureau,’ addressed to the Board Chairman by the former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, said the board must comply with the constitutional provisions.
“The rules of interpretation require the Constitution to be read as whole and that no particular provision should be read in isolation. Consequently, a combined reading of all the provisions mentioned above, will only lead to the conclusion that the Chairman and other members of the Code of Conduct Bureau not pursuant to the provisions of section 155(i) (a) and (c) of the 1999 Constitution, shall hold office for a term of five years and shall vacate office on attainment of 70 years even if their tenure is yet to expire,” said Adoke.
The former Attorney General’s memo was in response to the CCB Board Chairman’s letter, dated 1st March, 2012, seeking clarification on the tenure of the Board.
But staff of the Bureau have accused the former AGF of double speak and contradicting his earlier position, as contained in his letter to former president Goodluck Jonathan on the subject matter seeking review of the tenure of the Chairman of the CCB and members to hold office until the age of 70 years.
The said letter dated May 13, 2014 with reference no. HAGF /SH/2014/Vol.1/44 was titled: “Request for the regularisation of the tenure of office of the Chairman and members of the Code of Conduct Bureau.”
It reads in part: “I write to respectfully bring to Your Excellency’s attention, the need to regularise the letters of appointment of the current Chairman and members of the Code of Conduct Tribunal to bring them in line with extant provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
“The above request is borne out of my review of a letter dated May 5, 2014 addressed to my office by the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau which drew my attention to the contents of his letter of appointment written by a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) to convey his appointment by Your Excellency, informing the Chairman that the appointment was for a period of five years. Similarly worded letters of appointment were sent to the other nine members of the Bureau.
but the aggrieved staff of the Bureau have condemned the former AGF for not applying “the rules of interpretation which require the constitution to be read as a whole” but only based his submissions on the provisions of the Third Schedule Part 1 of the constitution without taking into consideration section 153 and 155.
“Based on the presentation and the approval by former President Goodluck Jonathan, the Chairman and members was re-written on July 10, 2014 vide letter Reference no. SGF.19/S.24/C.3/154 signed by former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Anyim Pius Anyim to say that the Chairman and members of the Bureau “shall vacate office on attaining the age of seventy years.”
The petitioners are worried that going by this provisions, the total length of service of the Chairman and members based on the date of birth, date if appointment and expected date of attainment of seventy years is between eight years at the minimum and 18 years at the maximum.
The aggrieved staff of the Bureau are contending that “ the appointment of the Chairman and members of CCB is a political appointment. I this not employment, nor a pensionable appointment. Thus provision is completely in violation of tenure principle and rules of engagement of political office holders.
“It is worthy of note that this board was screened and confirmed by the Senate in 2010 for a period of five years and that the renewal of tenure of Chairman and Board members of the Bureau are subject to Senate screening and re-confirmation. If Senate confirmation is required, why was the Chairman and members appointment extended administratively? “
The petitioners are consequently demanding that the Chairman and members of CCB have overstayed their appointment which expired on April 30, 2015 and they should vacate their office.
That all actions, policies formulated after April 30, 2015 be declared null and void and they should be made to repay all the monies, salaries received from April 30, 2015 from their severance package.
Also reacting to a number of allegations raised by the Director Department of Legal Services of the CCB, Omoyola Kolade in a petition dated March 23, 2016, the current SGF, Engr. Babachir Lawal through the Legal Adviser, Bar. Emmanuel Akissa, directed the CCB Board Chairman to respond to the allegations.
In a letter with reference number SGF. 19/S.C 24/C.3/158 dated 1st April, 2016, Lawal noted that Saba’s response would help to “engender a better understanding of the subject matter and will aid proper decision making thereon”.
Daily Sun investigation also revealed that just like CCB, about 13 other agencies equally affected by the constitutional provision of five year tenure include INEC, Council of State, Federal Character Commission, Federal Civil Service Commission, Federal Judicial Service Commission, National Defence Council, National Economic Council, National Judicial Council, National Population Commission, National Security Council, Nigeria Police Council, Police Service Commission and Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission.
Though calls to the CCB Board Chairman could not sail through, the Bureau’s spokesman, Mr. Muhammed Idris simply declined his comments on the matter saying the matter is already in court.