The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), has asked Tony Ojukwu to assume office as the acting Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
This is in contravention of the civil service rules and the Act that established the commission which empowers the Senate to clear the appointee.
Section 8 of the act states: “There shall be for the commission an Executive Secretary who shall be: ‘a legal practitioner with not less than 20 years post qualification experience and requisite experience in human right issues; a person of proven integrity and be the Chief Executive and Accounting Officer of the commission; appointed by the president subject to confirmation by the Senate.”
President Muhammadu Buhari had in December wrote to the Senate to request the confirmation of the appointment of Ojukwu as executive secretary of the commission.
The letter read out by Senate President, Bukola Saraki, noted: “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.
Perhaps in a hurry, AGF Malami directed the Solicitor General of the Federation, Dayo Apata, to write to Mrs. Otti Ovravah, the recognized acting Executive Secretary of the commission to handover to Ojukwu.
The letter with ref. No SGF/PS/NHRC/180/T, dated February 08, 2018 and titled: ‘Approval to Resume Duty as acting Executive Secretary of the NHRC’, reads: “Kindly refer to the subject matter captioned above.
“As you are aware in December 2017, President Buhari nominated Mr. Anthony Okechukwu Ojukwu as the substantive Executive Secretary to the commission pending confirmation by the Senate.
“While thanking you for holding forth in the commission till now, I am directed to inform you of approval to hand over the administration of the commission to the nominee of the president since he is a serving director in the commission.
“This is pending his confirmation by the Senate and full reconstitution of the governing council. The directive is with effect from the date of this letter.
“Please accept the assurance of the best wishes and consideration of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.”
But Ovravah 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.
Malami’s spokesman, Salihu Isah, did not pick calls put across to his phone. He also did not reply text messages.