Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, has expressed his reservations about appointing Chairmen for both the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) from the same geopolitical zone. Falana shared his views during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily program on Monday.
He argued that appointing the heads of both federal anti-graft agencies from the same region contradicts the principle of federal character, which is designed to ensure equitable representation across Nigeria.
Falana highlighted that the current EFCC Chairman hails from the northern region, and in line with the federal character principle, the ICPC Chairman should ideally be selected from the southern region.
In addressing the appointment of Ola Olukoyede as the new EFCC Chairman, Falana defended Olukoyede’s qualifications, noting that he possesses substantial experience, having previously served as the Chief of Staff to the EFCC Chairman from 2016 to 2018, followed by the position of Secretary to the Commission from 2018 to 2023, accumulating 22 years of relevant experience.
It’s worth noting that both Ola Olukoyede and the current ICPC Chairman, Prof Bolaji Owasanoye (SAN), hail from the South-West geopolitical zone. President Bola Tinubu appointed Olukoyede as the new EFCC boss, with a renewable term of four years, pending Senate confirmation, on October 12, 2023. This appointment came after the controversial resignation of the former EFCC boss, Abdulrasheed Bawa, who was suspended on June 14, 2023, and detained by the Department of State Services (DSS) over allegations of abuse of office.
Olukoyede’s appointment has generated criticism, with some claiming that he lacks the rank of an Assistant Commissioner of Police and therefore isn’t qualified to lead the EFCC. Falana, however, argued that Olukoyede’s qualifications and previous roles within the agency make him a suitable candidate.
Falana pointed out, “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.”
He emphasized, “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.”