Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Femi Falana, on Monday, kicked against the recent appointment of another Nigerian from the South-West geo-political zone as the new chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Falana said it is against the Federal Character Principle for the chairmen of the anti-graft Federal agencies in Nigeria, EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, to be appointed from the same geopolitical zone.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria said if the EFCC chairman is from the North, the South should produce the chairman of the ICPC.
Falana, who spoke on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme, said, “If you are going to have the EFCC and the ICPC, the heads cannot come from same zone,”
He, however, applauded the appointment of Mr Ola Olukoyede as the chairman of the EFCC, saying he’s “eminently qualified” to head the anti-graft agency having previously served as Chief of Staff to the EFCC Chairman (2016-2018) and Secretary to the Commission (2018-2023) as well as having 22 years cognate experience.”
But both Olukoyede and ICPC Chairman, Prof Bolaji Owasanoye (SAN), who has been in office since February 2019, are from the South-West geopolitical zone.
On October 12, 2023, President Bola Tinubu appointed Olukoyede as the new EFCC boss for a renewable term of four years in the first instance, pending Senate confirmation.
Olukoyede’s appointment followed the controversial resignation of embattled ex-EFCC boss, Abdulrasheed Bawa, who was suspended on June 14, 2023 and detained by the Department of State Services (DSS) over “weighty” allegations of abuse of office levelled against him.
Many lawyers and analysts have criticised Olukoyede’s appointment, saying he is not an Assistant Commissioner of Police and therefore not qualified to lead the EFCC.
But Falana said Olukoyede is qualified to lead the anti-graft commission having previously served in some high capacity in the agency.
According to him, “There is no issue; the only issue that has been raised has to be considered by the government is that we have in this country, the Federal Character Commission Act and also by the virtue of Section 14 of the constitution, appointments must reflect Federal Character.
“If you are going to have the EFCC and the ICPC, the heads cannot come from same zone. If there are two positions in the public service, one must go to the North, one must go to the South. If there are four, two must go to the South, two must go to the North. If there are six, one must go to each geopolitical zone. That is the law in Nigeria today.
“So, I am not comfortable with the fact that the heads of the EFCC and the ICPC are from the same zone. Apart from that, Mr Ola Olukoyede, is eminently qualified to head the EFCC. My colleagues who have criticised the appointment have not looked at the relevant provisions of the EFCC which is Section 2.”