There are indications that President Bola Tinubu may be under intense pressure over who becomes the next chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Already, two names are being rumored to be on the list of the favored. One is the incumbent acting Chairman, Abdulkarim Chukkol, while the other is a former secretary of the commission, Olanipekun Olukoyede.
While Olukoyede previously served as secretary of the anti-graft agency for two years under former acting chairman Ibrahim Magu until both were suspended in 2020 for alleged corruption, Chukkol is said to be the right hand man of the immediate past Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa who is currently under investigation by the DSS for alleged corruption.
The pressure on Tinubu to appoint Olukoyede is said to be so intense that a popular and respected religious leader has been recruited to plead his cause with the president. Sources close to Aso Villa however maintained that the president was non committal. The desperation about Olukoyede’s appointment is said to be informed by the fact that he will protect some Christian leaders who served in the last administration from investigation and eventual prosecution.
Besides, an Abuja based civil society group, Alliance for Good Governance and Due Process at the weekend in a statement said that Olukoyede is not qualified, even statutorily, to be chairman of the anti-corruption agency.
The group, in a statement signed by it’s National Coordinator, Mr. Ayelabola Hussain, said the alleged nomination, if it was true, would be a serious violation of the EFCC Act which was specific about the qualities and qualifications of persons that should be the chairman of such an important commission.
Hussain noted that, in a democracy, the government should be wary of constitutional provisions and nothing should be done to turn the EFCC into a lame duck commission just because some powerful forces would prefer an unqualified person to run its affairs.
He said: “We have watched closely and monitored some of the decisions taken by the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu since his inauguration on May 29, 2023.
“While we have, in the past, commended the President for some of the policy initiatives, we find it curious that some news organizations published a story that the President was planning to nominate a one-time Secretary of the EFCC, Mr. Olanipekun Olukoyede, as the chairman of the anti-graft agency.
“To us, this is a shocking development that must be addressed because we have struggled to understand what qualifies Olukoyede for such an exalted office. To be sincere, we have found none. This is, to say the least, a rude joke.
“Besides, the rumour mill is agog with the story of how Olukoyede contracted a Senior Pastor in one of the leading Pentecostal churches in Nigeria to put in a word for him at The Presidency so that he could be appointed to head the anti-agency. Is this right? How can The Presidency justify appointing someone who still has a pending case of corruption and who is still under investigation as head of an anti-corruption agency?
“In any case, the EFCC Act is clear about who is qualified to be the Chairman of the commission. The relevant section states,
2: (1) The Commission shall consist of the following members –
(a) a chairman, who shall –
(i) 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 questions are many. In what way is Olukoyede qualified to be so nominated if true? What happens to the pending cases against him even as Secretary of the EFCC under the leadership of Ibrahim Magu? Was Olukoyede exonerated by the Justice Ayo Salami Investigative Panel of the EFCC? If so, where is the report of that panel?
“By the way, it is public knowledge that Olukoyede’s account is still under investigation and frozen. So why is he in a hurry to go back to the EFCC? Is there something we don’t know? Does a man with such a huge baggage deserve to be rewarded with the chairman of the EFCC? Hussain asked.
Olukoyede, 54, is a lawyer who has played administrative roles in the EFCC without mainstream law enforcement experience stipulated in the EFCC Act. Critics say Olukoyede’s doubtful qualification underscores Tinubu’s lacklustre anti-corruption drive.
But Olukoyede’s experience is mostly in the legal and corporate spheres since he was an aide to Vice President Osinbajo and Magu before his secretary position.
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