Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, has charged the newly appointed chief commissioner of Public Complaints Commission (PCC ), Hon Chile Igbawua, and other commissioners to ensure that acts of injustice and oppression against any citizen of Nigeria are prevented.
He urged them to uphold the objective of the founders of the Public Complaints Commission as a formidable opponent to administrative corruption and give it enough publicity by making the public aware of its activities.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the new commissioners at the National Assembly, he further enjoined them to check abuse of power by governments at all levels and ensure that administrative actions of government are fair, reasonable and humane.
He disclosed that it was because of the need to make the commission more effective that highly qualified persons were selected to head the commission, adding that he had no doubt that with the quality of Commissioners so appointed, they would deliver the goods and reposition the Commission for improved service delivery to the Nigerian people.
“The Chief Commissioner, and Commissioners being inaugurated today are being entrusted with the important task of serving as Ombudsmen and receiving and administering complaints both from the public and private sectors of the economy. Your jurisdiction also covers matters concerning the Federal Government and its agencies, the States and even Local governments.
“Indeed, the Commission is uniquely placed in the hierarchy of laws setting it up as the Public Complaints Commission Act is embedded directly in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and can only be amended by following the process of amendment of the Constitution itself provided in S.9 of the Constitution. That is how important the Commission is.
“I charge you to discharge your duties with the fear of God and justice to all who appear before you. As you may be aware, you have powers to investigate any administrative action taken by
“(a) any Department or Ministry of the Federal or any State Government;
(b) any Department of any local government authority (howsoever designated) set up in any State in the Federation;
(c) any statutory corporation or public institution set up by any Government in Nigeria;
(d) any company incorporated under or pursuant to the Companies and Allied Matters Act whether owned by any Government aforesaid or by private individuals in Nigeria or otherwise howsoever; or
(e) any officer or servant of any of the aforementioned bodies” (S.5(2)(a)-(e) of the Public Complaints Commission Act).
“This power is exercisable to prevent acts of injustice and oppression against any citizen of Nigeria. You are further enjoined to ensure that administrative actions of government are fair, reasonable and humane. The law imbues you with authority to check abuse of power by governments at all levels,” Speaker Dogara added.
Speaking further on the relevance of the agency, he said, “The value and importance of this Commission seems even more relevant today than when it was set up in 1975. This is because the state of the nation today is such that an objective and an impartial quasi-judicial body like yours is best suited to help check the administrative injustices and abuse of power by security Agencies.
“The authors of the Public Complaints Commission envisaged it as a formidable opponent of administrative corruption. The Commission was designed to check corruption in an institutional way, and you should develop, activate and streamline your procedural practices in order to check corruption and corrupt practices.
“I wish to point out sadly, that many Nigerians still do not know of the existence of the Commission even though it has existed for 43 years. Many newer agencies have been making waves and impact in the lives of Nigerians. The Commission may be working hard and making impact, but it is not known by a majority of Nigerians. You therefore need to step up your activities and also publicise same. Maybe you need to conduct public hearing on your investigations to involve Nigerians in what you do.”
The Public Complaints Commission is one of the few agencies supervised by the National Assembly directly by law.