The Nigerian Government has reinstated Folashade Kolawole, a retired civil servant, as Director and Acting Secretary of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) despite a court order restraining her reinstatement.
The former Acting Secretary, Agom Tor Ngusha, was forced to hand over the affairs of the bureau to Mrs. Kolawole on Friday after he was put under duress with the threat of arrest through a telephone call from the Department of State Service (DSS).
It was gathered that the new Acting Secretary stormed the office of the CCB at the Federal Secretariat in Abuja with police and DSS officers wielding guns and teargas canisters.
When SaharaReporters visited the Bureau, several armed policemen were stationed in front of Mrs. Kolawole’s office.
“Today we just saw armed policemen with guns and teargas at the office premises,” a source, who requested to remain anonymous, told SaharaReporters. “The staff cannot work because the office environment is not conducive for anybody to work with the presence of the security everywhere.”
Mrs. Kolawole was said to have connived with the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of the Federal Secretariat, who provided her with police security and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) command of the DSS in Asokoro to intimidate the former Acting Secretary.
A letter dated October 17, 2017, which was obtained by SaharaReporters, was written and signed by the Acting Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Habiba M. Lawal, directing the Acting Secretary to hand over the position to Mrs. Kolawole with immediate effect.
The letter, titled, RE: PETITION AGAINST MY UNJUST SUSPENSION FROM OFFICE, reads as follows:
“I write with respect to the above subject matter to inform you that the office of the Secretary to the Government of Federation, after reviewing the petitioner's petition viz-a-viz the reply from CCB, is of the view that her suspension is in violation of the Public Service Rules and such, this office in its capacity as the supervisory organ of government for the CCB and in the absence of CCB Board, hereby recalls Mrs. Folashade Kolawole to her position as Director and Acting Secretary CCB with immediate effect. In this regard, you are to be guided by provisions of paragraph 3 of Circular Ref: No.SGF .19/S./81/X1X/964 (copy attached).
“I should also express the government's displeasure at your attitude towards and you refusal to comply with the earlier directive that came from this office with respect to this subject matter, even after you were summoned. Following the recall of Mrs. Kolawole, you are according directed to stop parading yourself as the Acting Secretary and hand over to her with immediate effect. Thank you.”
Our correspondent gathered that Mrs. Lawal is from the same state (Kwara State) as Mrs. Kolawole and decided to hurriedly reinstate her before proceeding on her pre-retirement leave soon.
Mrs. Lawal's decision to recall Mrs. Kolawole violates a court order from the National Industrial Court with suit No: NICN /ABJ/260/2017, which restrained the government from reinstating her.
The court explicitly stated that both applicants and defendants should not engage in or indulge in any action or inaction, overtly or covertly, that may lead to a breach of the peace and breakdown of law and order pending the determination of the motion on notice.
Mrs. Kolawole had voluntarily tendered her resignation letter and retired from the service following her suspension by the board for mobilizing directors to boycott the implementation of the standard operating procedures of the Bureau, which was signed by the President and gazetted.
According to another source within the organization, “Her response to the query was not satisfactory and was suspended as Acting Secretary. Instead of her to return to Federal Public Service, which is her original department, she decided to resign.”
The Chairman of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Isaac Onoja, and Chairman of the Joint Negotiating Council (JNC), Stephen Ada, have been arrested by DSS operatives in respect of this matter as at the time of filing this report.
They were arrested following a letter dated October 23, 2017, written and signed by one Isaac Ojemhenke on behalf of the association, advising the Secretary to the Government of Federation to withdraw the letter purportedly issued to Mrs. Kolawole directing her to resume duty at the Bureau pending the conclusion of the matter in court.
The Code of Conduct Bureau is the only anti-graft body in the Constitution with its operational guidelines and powers expressly stipulated in part 1 of the third schedule, part 1 of the fifth schedule and sections 157 and 158 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
The board of the Bureau is empowered to appoint, promote and discipline its staff without recourse to any authority.
The Bureau has been left with no board members following the dissolution of the former board. It was gathered that the names of the new board members have been forwarded to the Senate at the National Assembly for confirmation.
It would be recalled that a similar incident occurred last week when the former head of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina, was reinstated in a controversial manner by some senior government officials.