The recent appointment of the Director General, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, Imaan Sulaiman-Ibrahim, is fraught with irregularities, Nigeria’s leading anti-corruption group said on Monday.
The request was contained in a petition dated December 7, 2020 to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, a copy of which was sent to President Muhammadu Buhari.
In it, the Human and Environmental Development Agenda asked the Federal Government to reverse the appointment, which it said contravenes the law guiding the appointment of a DG for the agency.
The petition was signed by HEDA Chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju.
The group said if seven days after the receipt of the petition, the Federal Government fails to reverse the appointment, the decision would be challenged in the law court.
HEDA cited wide and undisputed reports indicating that the newly appointed DG is a politician whose core area of business is distribution of goods.
HEDA said Sulaiman-Ibrahim’s appointment apart from being contrary to the laws establishing the NAPTIP, risks the prospect of having a DG without the technical skill required for the position.
HEDA said the position of NAPTIP DG requires a professional with the needed experience in tackling the global menace of human trafficking and should not be conceived as an appointment for political favours.
HEDA cites Section 8(1) of the TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS (PROHIBITION) ENFORCEMENT AND ADMINISTRATION ACT. NO. 4, 2015 states that the agency Director-General shall be from the Directorate Cadre in the Public Service of the Federation or its equivalent in any law enforcement service and shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Minister.
HEDA said Sulaiman-Ibrahim has not faulted reports that she is a career politician and businesswoman that deals in the distribution of products, which is not within the contemplated directorate cadre in the public service.
HEDA said Sulaiman-Ibrahim does not possess the requisite experience to occupy the position.
The group cites reports that the new DG was a member of the Nasarawa State Economic Advisory Council as well as Special Adviser on Strategic Communication to the Minister of State for Education adding that these do not meet the requirement for her appointment under the provisions of Section 8(1) of the NAPTIP Act.
“The words of the drafters ‘SHALL’ in Section 8(1) referenced above is of a mandatory nature and therefore connotes no room for discretion or otherwise. In order words, in considering persons for the position of the Director General of the Agency, the provisions of this section ought to be placed above and sacrosanct. The Act specifically stated that the person to be elected as the Director General of the Agency shall be within the Directorate cadre of the public service and in this situation, the provisions of the law was completely abandoned,” Suraju stated.
He said the position of Sulaiman-Ibrahim as the Director General of NAPTIP is a flagrant violation of the law and that Malami, being the Minister with the supervisory responsibility over NAPTIP, should reverse the appointment.
Suraju said in the letter: “Nigeria is a democratic state and I believe our democratic roots should be reflected in the decisions and actions complying with the rule of law. Democracy and rule of law are Siamese twins, in order words; laws are put in place to prevent lawlessness and anarchy and to further strengthen the democratic state.
“It is to this end that I forward this complaint to your Ministry for a prompt intervention. I write for the ministry to intervene in appropriately advising the president to immediately reverse the decision of the appointment of Mrs. Sulaimon Ibrahim as the Director-General of the NAPTIP because the decision fails to represent the mandate of your Ministry and the government at large….”
Failure by government to respond to its demand, the organisation threatened to institute legal action, adding: “We anticipate your usual prompt action and response in this regard. Failure to reverse this action within 2 weeks of the receipt of this petition, this organization will be left with no option that to seek a legal redress through a competent court of jurisdiction.”