The appointment, announced in a statement by the presidential spokesperson on Thursday, confirms PREMIUM TIMES exclusive report days earlier about Mr Tinubu’s plan to name Mr Olukoyede as the next EFCC chief in disregard of the law.
This report has been updated following our review of the relevant provisions of the EFCC Establishment Act with our legal expert. We have realised that it is not expressly clear that Mr Olukoyede is not qualified to be appointed as EFCC chairman, but that, it is a controversial matter that pundits continue to disagree on.
President Bola Tinubu has appointed Olanipekun Olukoyede as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), an appointment that has stirred controversy over the candidate’s qualifications for the job.
Many are of the view that Mr Olukoyede, a lawyer, is not qualified to be EFCC chairman under the law establishing the anti-corruption agency.
The president also approved the appointment of Muhammad Hammajoda as the Secretary of the EFCC for a renewable term of five years.
Both appointments are subject to Senate confirmation.
The appointments, announced in a statement by a presidential spokesperson on Thursday, confirm PREMIUM TIMES exclusive report days earlier about Mr Tinubu’s plan to name Mr Olukoyede as the next EFCC chief.
Ajuri Ngelale, the presidential spokesperson who signed the statement, said Mr Olukoyede’s appointment followed the resignation of the immediate-past substantive chairman of the commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa.
Mr Bawa has been in the custody of the State Security Service (SSS) facing investigations over undisclosed corruption allegations since his earlier suspension from office in June.
PREMIUM TIMES reported that Mr Olukoyede, although a former secretary of the EFCC and ex-chief of staff to the chairman of the commission, did not meet the requirements of section 2(3) of the EFCC Act, to be qualified for the appointment.
The law stipulates that a chairman of the commission “must be a serving or retired member of any government security or law enforcement agency not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police or equivalent; and possess not less than 15 years experience.”
Mr Olukoyede, a lawyer, had no experience in any security or law enforcement agency until his first appointment at the EFCC in 2016 when he was appointed to serve as the Chief of Staff to then acting chairperson of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu. He held the position from 2016 to 2018.
He was subsequently appointed as the secretary of the commission in 2018 and served in that capacity up till 2020 when he was suspended from office by then-President Muhammadu Buhari. He was suspended alongside Mr Magu and some other officials of the commission. He and Mr Magu were never recalled.
While Mr Magu was replaced with Mr Bawa in February 2021, Mr Olukoyede was replaced with George Ekpungu as the secretary of the commission in June 2021.
But the presidency’s statement announcing the new EFCC appointments on Thursday stated that Mr Olukoyede served as the secretary of the commission up till 2023.
Controversy over Olukoyede’s qualification
There is a raging controversy over Mr Olukoyede’s qualification to occupy the office of the EFCC chair.
Some believe that he does not meet, at least, one of the three major criteria in the provision of section 2(1) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act, which requires the chairman to have “15 years cognate experience”.
This assertion is based on the fact that Mr Olukoyede’s experience in any security or law enforcement agency only began with his appointment as the chief of staff to the EFCC chairman in 2016.
In 2018, Mr Olukoyede was appointed the secretary to the commission, a position that qualifies as membership of the EFCC and can safely said to be higher than the equivalent of the rank of assistant commissioner of police, as the EFCC secretary legally serves as the head of administration of the anti-graft agency.
But Mr Olukoyede held this position for only two years – between 2018 and 2020 when he was suspended by then-President Buhari without being recalled.
Those who believe he is not qualified to be EFCC chairman argue that the number of years of his “cognate” experience, even factoring the number of years he served as chief of staff at the EFCC, the only law enforcement or security agency he has ever worked in, was insufficient.
If he had continuously worked at the commission since 2016 unstopped, he would only have garnered about seven years of experience at a law enforcement or security agency, which opponents of his appointment believe falls short of the 15 years of “cognate” experience required to be qualified to become the chairman of the commission.
On the other hand, some have argued that Mr Olukoyede ticks all the right boxes to be qualified as EFCC chair and that those who believe otherwise are only reading into the law what is not contained in it.
Section 2(2) of the EFCC Act clearly identifies the secretary as a member of the commission. In fact, the provision designates the chairman and the secretary of the commission as the only permanent members, and others on the EFCC board as “part-time” members.
Those in this school of thought say Mr Olukoyede meets the first condition of being a “serving or retired member of any government security or law enforcement”, having served as the secretary of the EFCC.
They also say that his position as the secretary of the commission for two years was well above the equivalent of an assistant commissioner of police or its equivalent when compared with the rank of officials that head the administration of other law enforcement or security agencies. For example, a Deputy Inspector General (DIG) is the head of administration in the Nigeria Police Force.
Concerning the third condition stipulated in section 2(1)(a)(iii) of the law, which requires a candidate for EFCC chair to “possess not less than 15 years experience,” the defenders of Mr Olukoyede’s appointment argue that his years-long pre-EFCC experience involving combatting corruption and fraud also forms part of his cognate experience.
This experience, they say, does not have to be from working at a government institution, as it is not stated as such in the provision. They argue that it is improper to add to a legal provision what the maker has not included.
Read the presidency’s full statement announcing the appointment of Mr Olukoyode below.
STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE
PRESIDENT TINUBU APPOINTS NEW EFCC CHAIRMAN AND SECRETARY OF THE COMMISSION
By the powers vested in President Bola Tinubu as established in section 2 (3) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004, that “the Chairman and members of the Commission, other than ex-officio members, shall be appointed by the President,” President Tinubu has approved the appointment of Mr. Ola Olukoyede to serve as the Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for a renewable term of four years in the first instance, pending Senate confirmation.
Mr. Ola Olukoyede is a lawyer with over twenty-two (22) years of experience as a regulatory compliance consultant and specialist in fraud management and corporate intelligence. He has extensive experience in the operations of the EFCC, having previously served as Chief of Staff to the Executive Chairman (2016-2018) and Secretary to the Commission (2018-2023). As such, he fulfils the statutory requirement for appointment as Chairman of the EFCC.
Mr Olukoyede’s appointment follows the resignation of the suspended Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa.
Furthermore, President Bola Tinubu has approved the appointment of Mr Muhammad Hassan Hammajoda to serve as the Secretary of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for a renewable term of five years in the first instance, pending Senate confirmation.
Mr Muhammad Hassan Hammajoda is a public administrator with extensive experience in public finance management who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Maiduguri and a Masters in Business Administration from the same university. He began his career as a lecturer at the Federal Polytechnic, Mubi. From there, he went into banking, including successful stints at the defunct Allied Bank and Standard Trust Bank.
President Bola Tinubu tasks the new leadership of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to justify the confidence given to them in this important national assignment as a newly invigorated war on corruption undertaken through a reformed institutional architecture in the anti-corruption sector remains a central pillar of the President’s Renewed Hope agenda.
Chief Ajuri Ngelale
Special Adviser to the President
(Media & Publicity)
October 12, 2023