The Senate, at its plenary on Tuesday, considered and passed a bill seeking to saddle the Red Chamber with the power to ratify the decision of a president to sack the Chairperson of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) when it considered a bill to that effect.
Sponsored by Senator Chukwuka Utazi (Enugu North), the bill scaled second reading at the legislative chamber.
Leading the debate on the general principles of the bill, Senator Utazi noted that the proposal is necessary to guarantee the security of the tenure of any substantive chairperson of the anti-graft agency.
He stated that all that was required of the parliament is to endorse the executive action by amending the EFCC Act in order to restrict non-trained members of staff of the EFCC from heading the Commission henceforth. A development he maintained will enhance professionalism in the service of the agency.
Second in the proposed amendment, he read, is the ‘Security of tenure for the Executive Chairman of the EFCC’ for which the lawmaker urged his colleagues to support the Bill and see to its expeditious passage.
He said that the EFCC needs to join the other anti-graft agencies, such as the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), in the legislative provision that ensures that the appointment and removal of the Chairman of the Commission is subject to the confirmation of the Senate.
Contributing to the debate, Senator James Manager (PDP, Delta South) noted that if the Senate has the power to confirm the appointment of the EFCC Chairperson, it should also have the power to approve the sack.
“We have already put in place the same law that we are talking about into the ICPC and FIU. So there is nothing wrong. If we have the right to confirm, we also have the right to approve removal,” Senator Manager said. “The other one is the issue of tenure of office and when you talk about the person who is leaving, who is to replace him? Is it from inside the service or from any other person outside the commission?”
On his part, Senator Adamu Aliero (PDP, Kebbi Central) noted that the bill would promote “institutionalism and professionalism. It will enhance the capability of the EFCC.” In his words: “I say this because appointing the headship of an agency like EFCC from outside the commission will lower the morale of the serving officers of the agency. If somebody is brought from outside and imposed on them, definitely it will lower their morale.”
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, in his ruling, said that the law should ensure that the successive heads of the commission are picked from within its ranks.
“The committee should work hard to ensure while we are looking for somebody from inside, that person should be able to have the support of his colleagues to succeed.” “I believe we should encourage people from the inside to grow to be leaders of the commission,” Lawan stated.
The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes for further legislative input.
The Senate already has the power to approve the decision of the president in appointing the chairperson of EFCC.