The appointment of Ola Olukoyede as the Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has stirred controversy,Daily Trust reports.
Yesterday, the President named Olukoyede as the Executive Chairman of the EFCC, with an initial four-year term, subject to Senate confirmation. This appointment followed the resignation of the suspended EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa.
Additionally, Muhammad Hassan Hammajoda was appointed as the Secretary of the EFCC for an initial five-year term, pending Senate confirmation.
However, questions have arisen about the legality of Olukoyede’s appointment as chairman, particularly in relation to Section 2(3) of the EFCC Act 2004. This section stipulates that the chairman “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, with at least 15 years of experience.”
Presidential spokesman Ajuri Ngelale argued that these appointments were made in accordance with the President’s authority as established in Section 2(3) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act 2004. He described Olukoyede as “a lawyer with over 22 years of experience as a regulatory compliance consultant and specialist in fraud management and corporate intelligence.” Ngelale highlighted Olukoyede’s extensive experience in the operations of the EFCC, having served as Chief of Staff to the executive chairman (2016-2018) and secretary to the commission (2018-2023).
President Tinubu charged the new EFCC leadership with the task of justifying the trust placed in them for the important national mission, as a revamped anti-corruption initiative, grounded in reformed institutional structures, remains a central aspect of the President’s “Renewed Hope” agenda.
Critics argue that Olukoyede’s appointment violates the law, specifically Section 2(3) of the EFCC Act, which outlines strict criteria for the chairman’s appointment. The Act mandates that the chairman should be a serving or retired member of a government security or law enforcement agency not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police, with a minimum of 15 years of experience. ActionAid Nigeria’s Country Director, Andrew Mamedu, called for the National Assembly to scrutinize the appointment and ensure that legal and procedural violations are not overlooked.
Lawyers have offered varying opinions on Olukoyede’s qualification for the appointment. Some, like Senior Advocate of Nigeria Sani Katu, have criticized the appointment and indicated their intent to challenge it in court. Others argue that the Senate should address any breach of the law, while some support Olukoyede’s qualification, citing his previous roles at the EFCC.
In response, the presidential spokesman defended Olukoyede’s appointment, asserting that he met all legal requirements. Ngelale emphasized that Olukoyede’s prior roles at the EFCC, including Chief of Staff and Secretary to the Commission, made him eligible for the chairman’s position according to the EFCC Act. He argued that the EFCC Act did not specify where the required 15 years of experience should be acquired, making Olukoyede’s extensive career in regulatory compliance a valid qualification.
The debate continues regarding the legal basis and appropriateness of Ola Olukoyede’s appointment as the Chairman of the EFCC, with contrasting opinions from legal experts and stakeholders.