The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related matters Commission (ICPC) has been urged to prosecute, recover salaries and allowances from a staff of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Tawfiq Tayo Akinwale, who contested the 2023 governorship election in Oyo State.
Mr Akinwale, a NAHCON staff working in its Ilorin Zonal Office, was the Labour Party governorship candidate in Oyo State during the March 2023 elections.
This call was made by a coalition of anti-corruption civil society organisations (CSOs), the Movement for Greater Nigeria and Good Governance (MGNGG), in a statement signed by its Advocacy Director Tokunbo Lasisi and Communications Lead Batool Sahib, and released on Friday in Abuja.
The CSOs also urged the anti-graft agency to investigate and recover all salaries and allowances paid to Mr Akinwale over the years for securing employment into NAHCON allegedly with a fake degree certificate.
The coalition said ICPC should also investigate and sanction the commission for clearly abetting the breach of the Public Service Rules and Presidential Directives because of “ethnicity and favoritism.”
This call is coming few weeks after some concerned staff of NAHCON petitioned the Office of the Head Civil Service of the Federation (HCSF) over the same violations by Mr Akinwale.
The staff, this newspaper learned, have vowed to continue mounting pressure until NAHCON top officials complicit in the Akinwale’s case are properly punished. Also, many staff of the commission have signed another petition to ICPC and EFCC, calling for the prosecution of Akinwale and the commission officials who superintended his breach of the public service rules.
The Public Service Rules provide that all civil servants must resign their appointments 30 days to the general election day.
Rule 030423 of the Public Service Rules requires that “Resignation is necessary before seeking elective public office. However, any officer wishing to engage in partisan political activities or seek elective public office shall resign his/her appointment forthwith.”
The CSOs said, “the ICPC, as a matter of urgency, arrest, investigate and prosecute Mr Tawfiq Tayo Akinwale, a staff of NAHCON and governorship candidate of Labour Party (LP) in Oyo State in the March 8, 2023 elections.”
The anti-corruption coalition said “ICPC must act quickly to safeguard the sanctity of the Public Service by making Mr Akinwale face the full wrath of the law. Allowing the erring staff to go scot-free like NAHCON is doing, will create a negative precedent among the staff of the commission and beyond.”
The CSOs expressed disappointment over NAHCON’s lacklustre attitude in sanctioning Mr Akinwale, “instead it went ahead to sponsor him to official trips both locally and internationally while he was a candidate of the Labour Party in Oyo State.
In the INEC final list for Governorship and State Assembly Elections published on 4 October 2022, Mr Akinwale presented only a Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) as his only academic qualification.
The MGNGG said this “fraud” must be prosecuted. “By this, Mr Akinwale confirmed the long term allegations that he was employed by NAHCON with a fake degree. For fear of backlash, Mr Akinwale refused to present the fake degree certificate to INEC during the elections. We are calling on ICPC to recover all salaries and allowances paid to him by NAHCON while working with a fake certificate,” the statement said.
The coalition said ICPC “must sanction the hajj commission officials for complicity in the Akinwale saga. This will go a long way in serving as deterrence to other federal agencies who are currently abetting the violations of the Public Service Rules.”
When contacted, Mr Akinwale refused to pick calls nor replied to messages sent to his mobile telephones. NAHCON chairman Zikirullah Kunle Hassan’s official mobile telephone line was busy repeatedly when our correspondent called. He didn’t reply to a message sent to it.