A bill seeking to reduce the power of the president on the sack of the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) scaled the second reading in the Senate on Tuesday.
The legislation titled: “Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act Amendment Bill and for other Matters Connected Therewith 2022,” was sponsored by the Senate Minority Whip, Chukwuka Utazi.
The bill also seeks to restrict the appointment of the EFCC chairman to the staff of the anti-graft agency.
Although many senators, who spoke on the matter, supported the need to get the Senate’s approval before the termination of the appointment of any EFCC chairman by the president, they were divided on whether the appointment of the chairman should be restricted to the staff.
Utazi, who led the debate on the bill at the plenary, 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 the 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, for 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.
“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.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, was non-committal on whether the position should be restricted to insiders.
He, however, said the proposed law must state clearly that the position is political and not civil service that will require the most senior officer to assume the chairmanship position.