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Falana says EFCC, ICPC chairmen should not come from same zone

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Renowned human rights advocate and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Femi Falana, has stated that both chairmen of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, cannot come from the same geopolitical zone.

Falana made the remarks while speaking in an interview on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily on Monday.

Appointing the chairmen of Nigeria’s two anti-graft federal agencies from the same geopolitical zone, he claims, violates the federal character principle, Falana noted.

He stated that because the chairman of the EFCC is from the southern zone, the head of the ICPC should be from the northern region.

“If you are going to have the EFCC and the ICPC, the heads cannot come from the same zone,” he said.

According to the senior lawyer, EFCC Chairman Ola Olukoyede is “eminently qualified” to lead the anti-graft agency, having previously served as Chief of Staff to the EFCC Chairman (2016–2018) and Secretary to the Commission (2018–2023), in addition to having 22 years of cognate experience.

Remember that Olukoyede and ICPC Chairman Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye (SAN), both from the south-west geographical zone, have been in office since February 2019.

On October 12, President Bola Tinubu appointed Mr. Olukoyede as the new EFCC chairman for a four-year tenure in the first instance, subject to Senate approval.

Olukoyede’s appointment came after the contentious resignation of embattled ex-EFCC boss Abdulrasheed Bawa, who was suspended on June 14 and held by the Department of State Services, DSS, amid “weighty” allegations of office abuse lodged against him.

Many have criticized Olukoyede’s appointment, claiming that he is not an Assistant Commissioner of Police and is therefore unqualified to manage the EFCC.

Falana, on the other hand, believes Olukoyede is qualified to lead the anti-graft commission because he has already worked in a senior capacity in the agency.

Falana noted that “There is no issue; the only issue that has been raised and has to be considered by the government is that we have in this country the Federal Character Commission Act. And also, by 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 the same zone. If there are two positions in the public service, one must go to the north and one must go to the south.

“If there are four, two must go to the south, and 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 criticized the appointment, have not looked at the relevant provisions of the EFCC, which are Section 2.”

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