Former Kaduna Central Senator, Shehu Sani, says Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has no case to answer regarding the contract awarded to a company linked to him by suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Betta Edu.
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Sani, in a chat with The Whistler, said Tunji-Ojo did not violate any public service law since he resigned from the company years ago.
“Going by the facts presented by Hon Ojo (Tunji-Ojo), he had since 2019 resigned from the company that was mentioned as beneficiary.
” It could have been a conflict of interest if he hadn’t resigned.
The senator further said it is “not his ministry (that awarded contracts), and companies have the right to pursue businesses anywhere.
“Edu’s case is very clear and can’t be equated with that of a company associated with Hon Ojo.
“Legally, he can’t be held to account on this matter.
“Let’s not be distracted,” Sani said.
“The extant provision of the law under the 1999 Constitution is that anybody who is a public servant cannot engage in any business other than farming,” said Nelson Kebordih, a senior lawyer whose interest is in public policy.
He said the implication of the law is “that a person must be in active control and directorship of the company in the management of any enterprise.
“You are permitted to own shares because owning a share does not put you in the day-to-day management of the company or any enterprise.
“If he (Tunji-Ojo) has resigned from being a director, the law does not stop him from owning shares in the company,” he stated.
The former lawmaker’s position aligns with the 2008 Federal Service Rules on Chapter 4 which states that “Public officers are not prohibited from holding shares in both public and private companies operating in Nigeria or abroad except that they must not be Directors in private companies, and may only be Directors in public companies if nominated by Government.”
Following the suspension and quizzing of Edu, concerning alleged financial sleaze, the Minister of Interior has come under pressure to resign or equally be suspended by the president after it emerged that his company, New Planet Project Ltd, also received a contract from Edu.
Edu had awarded some companies contracts, some of which were unregistered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) raising concern of fraud and illegality.
Tunji-Ojo is also being pressured to step down with many commentators saying he has flouted the Public Service Rules which barred public servants from being awarded contracts or contracting any business except farming.
But the Minister while speaking on television explained that he had resigned since 2009 from the company.
“Almost five years ago, I resigned as director of the company, so I’m not a director. I resigned on 1st of February, 2009, you can take that to the bank,” the minister had said.