… says there will be no sacred cow
…promises speedy dispensation of cases
By Emmanuel Elebeke
The newly appointed Chief Commissioner of Public Complaint Commission, PCC, Hon. Chile Igbawua, says the Commission under his watch would maintain open door policy and ensure speedy dispensation of justice.
Hon. Igbawua made the pledge after his inauguration with other commissioners on Wednesday.
He said the Commission may have areas of failure in the past but vowed that under his watch, intransigence from any individual no matter how highly placed in the society will not be tolerated.
‘‘I want to assure you that this office will be open to the press more than it has ever been. But this Commission is a foremost anti-corruption agency, an Ombudsman, which deals with administrative corruption.
‘‘The PCC under my watch will not tolerate intransigence from any quarters. Any person who is summoned by the commission shall appear and we will apply the full force of the law to ensure that people who come to us are given justice, firmly and fairly.
‘‘We will look at areas there have been failings. Those are the areas which we are going to concentrate on. The Act establishing this Commission has some hidden powers, which if not well read, you may think they are just not there, making the Commission look as if it cannot bite.’’
The new PCC boss, who decried the low awareness of the Commission among Nigerians vowed to step up awareness campaign to deepen the understanding of the Commission and its activities by the people, adding that more attention would be shifted to administrative corruption, which in his own estimation is more devastating than financial corruption.
‘‘We shall make sure that areas that were not understood are understood from now henceforth and we shall have a clear programme of sensitization for the citizens. The Commission has a very wide scope, it protects both citizen of Nigeria and other foreigners that reside in Nigeria.
‘‘For us administrative corruption is more devastating than financial corruption because it deals with incidence on the citizens.
‘‘And one thing I can assure the public is that we shall receive and treat all complaints assiduously and complaints can be against any public officer or officials of companies registered under the Company Income and Allied Act.
‘‘We have had issues where people were invited by the Commission to appear and they refused to appear either by negligence or whatever reason. I want to assure you that we shall build on the Act establishing this Commission. There are sanctions which we can apply and there are provisions to compel attendance.
‘‘There are areas in the Act which are lacking as identified by the President of the Senate. We shall quickly engage the National Assembly to ensure that the Act is amended to make the Commission a more productive institution to the citizenry. ’’
On the challenges from alternative media, Hon. Igbawua said the Commission remains the only statutory agency empowered by law to adjudicate on public complaints.
‘‘I have listened to radio programmes which seem to deal with these issues. But what people must understand is that this is a statutory body, which has powers to enforce decisions and this Commission has branches in all the states of the federation and is expected to have offices in all LGs in the federation. I am not too sure we are lacking in terms of scope to meet with all these challenges.
‘‘We shall also work towards technological improvements, to ensure that we have modern ways by which complaints can be lodged. It wouldn’t require people to come all the time. We shall put in place those technological measures that will aid citizens to complain without having to travel long distances.’’
On pending cases, he said: ‘‘I can assure that all pending cases will be treated promptly.’’
On level of openness expected from the Commission, he said, ‘‘Apart from public officers who have immunity, no other person is beyond the reach of this Commission. Our reach is far and we have statutory powers to ensure our decisions are enforced.
‘‘Other bodies may resolve other issues that may not require enforcement in most cases. If you feel good about the way your issues were resolved by other entities, that will be okay, but I am sure people will still need this Commission all the time.
‘‘If we invite you and you refuse to come, it is criminal because you are obstructing the course of justice. The law is in unison; we are not just tied to the PCC Act but there are ancillary Acts that may arise in the course of our operations. We are not going to treat complaints with kid gloves. We shall make sure justice is done to everyone that comes to us. If there were some limitations, those ones will be removed,’’ he added.