Renowned senior lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana, has said that rather than being sacked, Former CEO of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission Babatunde Irukera, should be sent a letter of commendation for turning around the agency.
Falana stated that the use of the word “dismissal” was also libellous. He explained that the president had not told anyone the offence committed by Irukera and argued that the use of “commissioner” in the law also applied to the erstwhile FCCPC boss.
Falana said, “So the removal has to go through the Senate. And what is even more embarrassing is the use of the word ‘dismissal’. You do not dismiss somebody who has not committed an offence or has not been found wanting. This is a man who has done well for the country. He did what no regulatory agency has done for the country.
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“A tobacco company paid $110 million to Nigeria and to the coffers of the government. But the painful aspect, for me, is that I was just suggesting on Tuesday that that money be used to upgrade one of the cancer centres in Nigeria.”
Falana added, “It’s actually libellous also to announce the dismissal of a public officer who has not been found wanting or indicted for a serious misconduct. But what is important is that this is a man who should be commended by the entire country for the way and manner he organised the commission.
“This was recently demonstrated in the fine of $110 million imposed on the tobacco company, which has been paid to the coffers of the government. That company will be laughing at us. So, you cannot justify it.”
The rights activist stated that before Irukera was removed he had other such pending matters, which would have also benefited the country.
According to him, “And upon it all, you said he has been dismissed. Dismissal? He won $110 million at a time you need foreign exchange very badly and he has similar cases pending. Nobody has run that place like this guy. The guy has reorganised the place.
“This is arguably the most effective regulatory agency in the country and you treat him so shabbily as if he has committed an offence. The president can remove any anybody per se, but to say the person has been dismissed is libellous.”
However, presidential media aide Bayo Onanuga said both Irukera and Director-General/CEO, Bureau of Public Enterprises, Alexander Ayoola Okoh, were relieved of their duties, not dismissed, contrary to the previous release by another presidential media aide Ajuri Ngelale.
“I have followed the concerns in the media on the report that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu dismissed Babatunde Irukera EVC/CEO, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) and Alexander Ayoola Okoh — Director-General/CEO, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE).
“The President’s directive did not intend a dismissal . The two men who have served our country were relieved of their duties by the President, as he scouts for their successors.
“The connotations implied in using the word dismissal were clearly not intended in the statement issued.
“President Tinubu thanks the two men for their services and wishes them well in their future endeavours,” he said in sn X quote.