The resolve of the Public Complaints Commission FCT, to crackdown on Nigerians who failed to honour its letters and summons yielded positive results on Tuesday,November 12,2013 when a joint team of the Commission’s operatives and policemen from the FCT Command of the Nigerian Police Force stormed the Knapps Academy Lugbe in Abuja to arrest the school’s Proprietress,Mrs. Olaoluwa Netuto .
Genesis of Mrs. Netuto’s travails in the hands of the Commission
On June 31, 2011,one Mr. Reuben Ndibe,a former employee of Knapps Academy petitioned the Commission alleging that he was unfairly dismissed from the institution by the management led by Mrs. Netuto,50,and his entitlements not paid. Efforts of the Commission to get Mrs. Netuto to respond to the allegations proved abortive as she ignored numerous letters from the Commission.
The Public Complaints Commission is an agency of the Federal Government established in 1975 by the Administration of Gen. Yakubu Gowon empowered to inquire into complaints by members of the public concerning the administrative action of any public authority and companies or their officials,and other matter ancillary thereto. To underscore the importance of the commission,it was inserted in, Section 315(5) of the 1999 constitution (as amended)
On assumption of duty after their inauguration by the the chairman of the National Assembly and the President of the Senate ,Dr, David A.B Mark in May 2013,the FCT Commissioner of the Commission,Hon. Obunike Ohaegbu irked by the large number of unresolved cases he met on ground owing to the refusal of some respondents to honour the Commission’s letters and long absence of Commissioners, embarked on sensitisation campaign to enlighten Nigerians in FCT on the need to cooperate with the Commission in their quest to tackle administrative injustice and promote good governance. While speaking on a radio programme in Abuja sometime in June this year, the Commissioner warned that the Commission will no longer condone the neglect of its Letters and Summons by members of the Public and any individual who is found wanting,will be made to face the full wrath of the law,adding that the period of grace has ended. He further revealed that the Commission will begin crackdown on people who fails to honour its letters and summons.
What the Law says
Section 8(2) of the Public Complaints Commission Act P37 Laws of the Federation 2004 states that ;
“If any person required to furnish information under this Act fails to do so or in purported compliance-with such requirement to furnish information knowingly or recklessly makes makes any statement which is false in any material particular,he shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine of N500.00 or imprisonment for six (6) months or both such fine and imprisonment.
True to the words of the FCT Commissioner of the Commission,Hon. Ohaegbu and in exercise of the powers vested on him as the Commissioner,on Tuesday November 12,2013 Mrs. Netuto was arraigned before Justice Umaru Kagarako of Abuja Upper Area Court sitting in Karu on one count charge hours after she was picked up from her school in Lugbe.
Reading the charge,the Commission’s prosecutor, Albert Okara, told the court that the accused had failed to respond to letters from the Commission since 2011 requesting her to respond to an allegation filed before the Commission against her by one Reuben Ndibe.
“On the 17th June, 2011, you were written to respond to the allegation and you failed and neglected to respond to the commission’s letter and on the 13th of September 2011 another letter was written in form of a reminder and you also failed to respond to the letter. On the 13th of February, 2013, you were also invited to the commission through a letter with number PCC/FCT/ C174/2011/21 and you failed to honour the invitation,” he said.
The Accused who pleaded not guilty when the charge was read to her, was accused of failing to furnish the Commissioner with information on an allegation leveled against her contravenes Section 8 Subsection 2 of the Public Complaints Commission Act Cap P37 Law of the Federation 2004.
She was granted bail in the Sum of N20,000 and surety in like sum. The case was adjourned to February 10,2014 for hearing.
And to others who had in the past failed to respond to the Commission’s inquiries,it is no longer business as usual,a new era has began.
Public Complaints Commission,FCT