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Politics

Senate Okays Tinubu’s Sacking Of Babatunde Irukera As Consumer Protection Commission Boss

Bola Tinubu and Senate 1

The Nigerian Senate has approved President Bola Tinubu’s request to remove Babatunde Irukera as the Executive Vice-Chairman of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC).

The decision came after a voice vote at Wednesday’s plenary session, with the majority of senators voting in favour of the removal.

President Tinubu, in a letter read by Senate President Godswill Akpabio, cited “inefficiency” as the reason for seeking Irukera’s removal.

However, the FCCPC Act requires the President to obtain the National Assembly’s approval before removing the Commission’s Executive Vice-Chairman.

THE WHISTLER reported that President Tinubu sacked Irukera and Alexander Ayoola Okoh, Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), in January 2024.

Their removal, according to the presidency, was part of “plans to restructure and reposition critical agencies of the Federal Government towards protecting the rights of Nigerian consumers and providing a strong basis for enhanced contributions to the nation’s economy by key growth-enabling institutions, President Bola Tinubu has dismissed the following Chief Executive Officers.”

The FCCPC plays a crucial role in safeguarding consumer rights and ensuring fair competition in the Nigerian market, while the BPE oversees the privatization and commercialization of state-owned enterprises.

Irukera’s removal, however, sparked criticism from legal experts like Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, who argued that the removal process bypassed proper protocol and criticised the use of the term “dismissal” as it suggests wrongdoing on Irukera’s part.

Falana had commended Irukera’s performance, particularly for securing a $110 million payment from a tobacco company to the government.

He expressed concern that the removal could discourage future efforts from regulatory agencies.

“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.

“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.”

“It’s actually libellous also to announce the dismissal of a public officer who has not been found wanting or indicted for 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,” Falana had said.

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