By Emmanuel Aziken,
ABUJA— The cold war between the Senate and the Presidency is set to deteriorate, following President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to apply his newly realised power to unilaterally hire and fire heads of extra-ministerial agencies on the management of the National Pension Commission, PENCOM.
The implication of Section 171 of the constitution recently came to fore in the light of controversies arising from the confirmation of Mr. Ibrahim Magu as chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The provision is, however, against the provisions of the PENCOM Act which provides in Section 19(3) that “The Chairman, the Director-General and the Commissioners shall be appointed by the President subject to the confirmation by the Senate.”
The presidency, according to Vanguard sources, relied on Section 171 of the constitution in sacking the former Director-General of PenCom, Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, and the Commissioners of the agency on Thursday April 13, 2017.
The move is causing apprehensions that the presidency may have decided to whittle the influence of the Senate in giving confirmation to heads of extra-ministerial agencies as provided for in their enabling Acts.
The Senate, Vanguard learned, is now contemplating approaching the Supreme Court to seek interpretation of the act or amending Section 171 of the Constitution to remove ambiguities on the role of the Senate in confirming nominees of the president in extra-ministerial agencies.
There was also concern that one of the nominees appointed to the new management of the commission may have violated the provisions of the Pensions Reforms Act, PRA 2014 being that he is a board member and a major shareholder in one of the Pension Fund Administrators
Section 19 (5)(a) provides that “The Chairman and members of the Board shall not own controlling shares in any Pension Fund Administrator or Pension Fund Custodian Pension Fund Custodian prior to and during their tenure of office as Chairman or members of the Board”.
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