How Can Ojukwu Resumes Office Without Approval? Senate Ask

The Senate, Wednesday, mandated its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to investigate the circumstances surrounding the circumstances surrounding the assumption of duty by the Executive Secretary of National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, Tony Ojukwu, without confirmation by the legislature.

Ojukwu was reported to have been ordered by the Attorney-General of the Federation, (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to assume office in flagrant disregarding for the constitutional powers of the Parliament.

The Senate resolution followed a Point of Order 43 of the Senate Standing Rule raised by Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West), who drew the attention of his colleagues to how the AGF allegedly ordered Ojukwu to resume office in contravention of the Civil Service Rules and the Act establishing the Commission.

Senator Melaye said that the action of the AGF was an affront on the authority of the Senate pointing out that it was not the first time Malami would be daring the Senate.

He urged the Red Chamber to henceforth disqualify nominees of the President who assumed duty of office without confirmation by the Senate.

The Senate had on July 4, 2017, suspended all executive confirmation requests following the refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to drop Ibrahim Magu as the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), following his rejection twice by the Chamber.

As a result of this standoff, aside the President’s request on the confirmation of the NHRC boss, over 40 other nominees are pending at the Senate as a result of the standoff.

Those affected include heads and board members of the Pension Commission (PenCom), Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC; National Lottery Regulatory Commission, NLRC; Federal Roads Maintenance Agency, FERMA; two Deputy Governorship nominees and four members of the Monetary Policy Committee, MPC of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN among others.

Melaye in his presentation, stoically frown on the seeming negation of the rule of law by the Executive branch of the federal government, as he told the legislators that his personal privilege and that of the Senate had been breached by Malami’s action.

He said: “Nigeria is not a banana republic. The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria swore on the 29th of May 2015 before men and God, to respect the Constitution and obey the rule of law.

“And if the Attorney General who is supposed to be custodian of our laws will flagrantly ask an individual who has been nominated by Mr President but had not been confirmed by the Senate to go and resume and the person has since resumed, then we are not practising democracy. We have no regard for the rule of law.

“My intention is to bring this abuse of office of the Attorney General to the notice of the Nigerian Senate. And it is becoming one too many. We must have an AGF that will respect his calling.”

In adopting the resolution, the lawmakers mandated the Committee on Justice, Human Rights and Legal Matters, headed chaired by Senator David Umaru (APC, Niger East) to quickly look into the matter with a view to verifying the authenticity or otherwise of the allegations against the AGF.

The Senate also asked the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha, to ensure that in this administration, malpractice never happens again.

In his ruling, the Senate President Bukola Saraki, who presided over the session, strongly asked the SGF to ensure that such constitutional violation did not happen again.

President Muhammadu Buhari had in December 2017, written to the Senate seeking confirmation for the nomination of Ojukwu as Executive Secretary of the NHRC.

On February 8, 2018, the AGF in a letter entitled, ‘Approval To Resume Duty as Acting Executive Secretary of the NHRC’, asked Ojukwu to resume without Senate approval.

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