The Women Empowerment and Legal Aid, the Nigerian Women Trust Fund, Women in Politics Incorporated and other interest groups have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to approve the appointment of any qualified woman as substantive Auditor General for the Federation to fill the vacuum created after the retirement of Mr. Adolphus Aghughu five months ago.
Based on Section 85(2) of the 1999 Constitution, the AuGF audits and provides reports on the public accounts of the federation and of all offices and courts of the federation.
In September last year, following the federal government’s approval, Mr Andrew Ogochukwu Onwudili, assumed duty as the Director Overseeing the Office of the Auditor-General for the federation (OAuGF).
But in a letter to the president made available to THE WHISTLER, by the groups’ counsel, Marshal Abubakar Esq ( Falana and Falana Chambers), they accused the Federal Civil Service Commission of unilaterally appointing Mr. Andrew Ogochukwu Onwudili as Director overseeing the office of the AuGF, alleging contravention of constitution and statutory provision.
The letter partly reads, “The extant Federal Civil Service Rules lucidly mandates that an acting AuGF shall be appointed from amongst the three most senior Directors in the office of the Auditor General of the Federation. The extant nominal role of the OAuGF, showed Messrs Onwudili A.O, Gabriel S. Gbayan and Mrs. O.A. Ogundowo as the three most senior Directors in the office.
“On 11th August, 2022, the Federal Civil Service Commission issued an internal advertisement Ref. No. FCSC/PS/31/Vol.II/241 directing interested eligible Directors of Audit with more than two years in service after December, 2024 to submit their expression of interest application for the office of the AuGF.
“On 9th September, 2022, the FCSC issued circular letter Ref. No. FCSC/CHMN/RAG.023/11/108 directing five newly promoted Directors of Audit (w.e.f January, 2021) to submit their expression of interest in the post of Auditor-General for the Federation on or before September 14th, 2022.
“Based on the conditions stated in the internal advertisement circular stated above, Mrs. A. O. Ogundowo, Mrs E. N. Ugwu, Mr. A. O. Onwudili, Mr. Vandu, N. J., Mr. Ofile Martins, Mrs. Yunus B. Dabels, Mr. V. N. Chiekwe, Mr. Osagie John Obanor, Mr. Chira Shakaar and Dr. Oladayo Abe were screened. Only three of the Applicants (Mrs A.O. Ogundowo, Mrs. E. N. Ugwu and Mr. Chira Shakaar) met all the conditions set out in the internal advertisement circular.
“Rather than forward these three names from which a substantive AuGF would be screened and appointed in line with Section 86  of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the FCSC retained Mr A.O Onwudili as the Director overseeing the office of the AuGF in lucid contravention of the 1999 Constitution as amended.”
The groups urged Buhari to use his constitutional powers to appoint one of the two female candidates amongst the three Directors eligible for the position, citing a Federal High Court judgment that had ordered FG to reserve 35 per cent of appointments into public offices for women.
The letter reads further, “As your Excellency may no doubt be aware, the Federal High Court, Abuja, per Honourable Justice D. U. Okorowo on Wednesday 6th day of April, 2022 delivered judgement in suit. NO: FHC/ABJ/CS/1006/2020 between Inc. Trustees Of Women Empowerment & Legal AID (WELA) Initiative VS The President, Federal Republic Of Nigeria And Anor. [on behalf of Nigerian Women] wherein the court had declared as illegal, unlawful, null and arbitrary the failure of the Government to implement the 35% affirmative action policy of the Federal Government of Nigeria, the overwhelmingly predominant appointment of the male gender into decision making positions of the Federation and thus granted an order of Injunction restraining your Excellency from further exercising the Constitutional and statutory power of appointment in a manner violative of the 35% affirmative action policy of the Federal Government of Nigeria as contained in the National Gender Policy, 2006.
“In view of the administration’s avowed commitment to upholding and respecting women right as a human right, we are imbued by a sense of duty to request that in exercising your power under Section 86 (2) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, you favourably consider the appointment of the most qualified and one of the two female candidates amongst the three Directors eligible for the position; Mrs Oluseyi Adeoti Ogundowo in the interest of fairness, justice rule of law, obedience to court orders, fairness and all-inclusiveness.
“Whilst anticipating your favorable consideration of our request Mr President, please accept as usual our esteem professional regards.”
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