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RE: PENCOM & Obla: Why Osinbajo Should Right The Wrongs ―By Utum Eteng

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Intro Image: Removed PENCOM D-G, Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu [Courtesy: ElsTimmy/Twitter]

In a democratic clime when rule of law reign supreme, everybody is entitled to an opinion on any matter of public concern. 

It is therefore in pursuit of his constitutional right that Chief Okoi Obla, Special Assistant on Prosecution to the President expressed his opinion vide Channel Television to which Mr. Femi Ajiboye from Lagos expressed a contrary opinion on THISDAY of Saturday, May 13, 2017 at page 50 wherein he thinks “Why Osinbajo should Right the Wrong” of the Removal of Chinelo Anohu-Amazu with a call to the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to reverse President Buhari’s decision. 

Obono-Obla in defending the President’s decision has cited Section 21 (i) of the

Pension Reform Act thus: “notwithstanding the provisions of section 20 and 26 (3) of this Act, a cessation of office, member of the Board shall cease to hold office as a member of the Board if:- 

He resigns his appointment as a member of the Board by a notice, under his hand, addressed to the President; his term of office expires; 

he dies;

he becomes of unsound mind; 

he becomes bankrupt or makes a compromise with his creditors; 

he is convicted of a felony or any offence involving dishonesty or corruption; 

he becomes incapable of carrying out the functions of his office either arising from infirmity of mind or body; 

he is found to have contravened the provisions of section 19 (5) or (6) of this Act; 

in the case of an ex-officio member, he ceases to hold the office on the basis of which he becomes a member of the Board; 

or the President is satisfied that it is not in the interest of the Commission or public for the person to continue in office or notifies the member in writing to that effect”. 

Obono-Obla also cited Section 19 (3) of the Act which vests the power of the appointment of the Director-General and Commissioners, subject to the confirmation of the Senate on the President. Anybody with the power to appoint in law also has the power to remove. 

Whether sufficient notice was given by the announcement on the media of her removal as stipulated by the law is subject to different interpretations. The operative word appears to be the notification of the President’s decision conveying her sack. 

It is submitted that “writing is the form whilst the substance would appear to be the content of the information getting to its destination.” Nonetheless, Anohu-Amazu cannot pretend to have been unaware of her removal.

This means the intention of conveying the information of her removal to her and the public was achieved.

The long and short approach could be that if the DG of PENCOM considers her removal is against the law, she has the option of challenging the President’s action in the court. 

It is preposterous for Mr. Ajiboye to think that the Acting President should reverse the decision of the President if it was wrong. It is certainly not a good step for the professor of law who knows the limits of acting authority to take.

Ajiboye may have painted Anohu-Amazu, as the best thing that has ever happened to the pension industry in ignorance of the facts the President relied on.

It is however important to note that her presence in the industry since PenCom was established owes it more to privileged access and good fortune than anything else. 

While working with the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El’Rufai then at the Bureau of Public Enterprise, El’Rufai recommended Anohu-Amazu her to serve as Secretary of the Fola Adeola’s National Taskforce Team on Pension Reforms. 

The pioneer Managing Director of Guarantee Trust Bank was recommended to then President Olusegun Obasanjo for the assignment by El’Rufai. 

The Adeola Committee that laid the foundation for the Pension Reform Act 2004, which established the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) and PenCom as the regulator. 

M. K. Ahmed who also served in the Adeola Committee became the pioneer Managing-Director of PenCom while Anohu-Amazu became the pioneer Secretary/Legal Adviser.

Before her confirmation in September 2014 by the Senate for a five-year tenure, Anohu-Amazu was from December 2012, in the position of Director-General of 

PenCom in acting capacity. She was not qualified to be appointed Acting Director-General of PenCom at the time of her appointment. Her position as Secretary/Legal Adviser for eight years prior to her Acting Director-General appointment is a position of a director. 

It was required of her to retire after serving as a director for eight years in line with the Public Service Rules. This was ignored when the then SGF Senator Anyim Pius Anyim via a memo dated December 10, 2012 directed the then Director-General, M. K. Ahmed to handover to Anohu-Amazu. 

Ahmed was due to retire on December 16, 2012 alongside Anohu-Amazu. She remained in acting position until the Pension Reform Act 2004 was amended to reduce the number of years of experience to become Director-General from 20 years to 15 years in order to accommodate her.

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