AGF Dares Senate, Asks Ojukwu to Assume Office as NHRC Boss Without Confirmation

Image result for Minister for Justice Abubakar Malami

The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister for Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN), on  Monday asked Antony Ojukwu to assume office as the acting Executive ‎Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in contravention of the civil service rules and the Act that established the commission.

 Some staff of the commission who felt that the action of the AGF contravened the civil service rules and the NHRC (Amendment) Act alerted the media to the illegality being perpetuated by the minister who ought to be championing rule of law.

On February 13, ‎2016, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General of the Federation caused a letter to be delivered to Mrs. Otti Ovravah who was until then, the acting Executive Secretary of the commission, to hand over to Ojukwu.

Following the completion of the tenure of Prof. Bem Angwe as Executive Secretary, Ovravah took over as acting ES being the most senior person in the commission.

President Muhammadu Buhari had in December last year written to the Senate to request the confirmation of the  appointment of  Ojukwu as executive secretary of the commission.

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, had already read the letter to senators at plenary.

The letter partly read: “In accordance with provisions of Section 8 of the National Human Rights Commission Act 2010, I have the pleasure to present Mr. Anthony Okechuwku Ojukwu for confirmation as the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission by the Senate.”

However, the Senate had placed an embargo on the confirmation of appointments made by the president following the retention of Mr. Ibrahim Magu as the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) despite rejection of his appointment by the lawmakers.

However, in order to circumvent the provisions of ‎Section 8 of the NHRC Act 2010,‎ which requires the Senate to confirm Ojukwu's appointment, the AGF directed the Solicitor General of the Federation, Dayo Apata, to write to Mrs. Ovravah‎ to handover to Ojukwu.

Ovravah is the most senior officer in the commission, and under the Civil Service Rules, she should have continued to act as executive secretary of the commission until the Senate confirms Ojukwu. Mr. Mohammed Ladan, who is the next most senior officer, is not a lawyer. Ojukwu is the third most senior in the commission's hierarchy.

‎A source at the Ministry of Justice confided  that Malami had at a meeting with United Nations Deputy Secretary General, Amina Mohammed, on January 11 at the ministry prevented the acting Executive Secretary of the commission, Ovravah, from speaking on behalf of the commission. Instead, he asked Ojukwu to speak for the commission when he was neither the acting ES not the substantive ES.


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