A bill seeking to whittle down the power of the President on the termination of the appointment of the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Tuesday, passed the second reading in the Senate.
The piece of legislation titled, “Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act Amendment Bill and for other Matters Connected Therewith 2022”, sponsored by the Senate Minority Whip, Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu North), also seeks the restriction of appointment into the office from EFCC staff.
Senator Utazi, while leading the debate on the bill, said in ensuring the security of tenure for the EFCC chairman, the Senate should approve the removal of any chairman on the firing line of the president as it does in the appointment.
He said: “One of the thrusts of this amendment is the issue of security of tenure for the executive chairman of the commission.
“For other anti-graft agencies created through the legislative instrumentality, before and later, that is, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC and Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, the National Assembly ensured that the headship had security of tenure by ensuring that their appointments and removal, as the case may be, were subject to the confirmation of the Senate.
“That was not the case with the EFCC. Therefore, in this proposed amendment, it is intended to bring the EFCC in conformity with the other two anti-graft agencies of government. This will engender optimal performance by the commission of the very important mandate assigned to it.”
Senator Utazi added that the other thrust of the amendment, despite already being taken care of, by President Muhammadu Buhari with the appointment of Abdulrasheed Bawa as EFCC chairman in February last year, required law to restrict such appointment to EFCC staff as being sought by the bill.
“As a new commission, it was understandable that its headship was appointed from outside of the commission, for obvious reasons.
“However, the turning point of the commission came when this administration which has as its mantra in the fight against corruption, took the pioneering and audacious step by looking inwards, in the commission to pick the first Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to head it.
“This is very commendable and President Muhammadu Buhari has carved his name and administration in gold by this very singular action, and posterity will never forget him.
“All that is required of this Parliament is to endorse this executive action by amending the EFCC Establishment Act to restrict non-trained EFCC staff from the headship of the commission, going forward. This will enhance professionalism in the service of this anti-graft agency,” he stressed.
Many senators, who contributed to the debate, supported the argument of seeking approval of the Senate before the termination of the appointment of any EFCC chairman by the President but differed on restricting the appointment of the commission’s chairman to insiders.
In his remarks after the bill scaled second reading, the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, said restricting the appointment of the chairman of EFCC to insiders is a very good one but the proposed law, must state it clearly that the position is political and not civil service that will require the most senior officer to assume the chairmanship position.
The bill was accordingly forwarded to the Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes for more legislative inputs within four weeks.