Femi Falana, said that rather than being sacked, Irukera, who had reorganised FCCPC, should be sent a letter of commendation for turning around the agency. Falana stated that the use of the word “dismissal” was also libellous. He explained that the president had not told anyone the offence committed by Irukera and argued that the use of “commissioner” in the law also applied to the erstwhile FCCPC boss.
Falana said, “So the removal has to go through the Senate. And what is even more embarrassing is the use of the word ‘dismissal’. You do not dismiss somebody who has not committed an offence or has not been found wanting. This is a man who has done well for the country. He did what no regulatory agency has done for the country. “A tobacco company paid $110 million to Nigeria and to the coffers of the government. But the painful aspect, for me, is that I was just suggesting yesterday that that money be used to upgrade one of the cancer centres in Nigeria.”
Falana added, “It’s actually libellous also to announce the dismissal of a public officer who has not been found wanting or indicted for a serious misconduct. But what is important is that this is a man who should be commended by the entire country for the way and manner he organised the commission.
This was recently demonstrated in the fine of $110 million imposed on the tobacco company, which has been paid to the coffers of the government. That company will be laughing at us. So, you cannot justify it.” The rights activist stated that before Irukera was removed he had other such pending matters, which would have also benefitted the country.
However, in a brief note last night, the federal government, through an aide to the president, Bayo Onanuga, said Irukera and Alex Okoh of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) were relieved of their duties, not dismissed. Onanuga clarified, “The president’s directive did not intend a dismissal. The two men, who have served our country, were relieved of their duties by the president, as he scouts for their successors. “The connotations implied in using the word dismissal were clearly not intended in the statement issued. President Tinubu thanks the two men for their services and wishes them well in their future endeavours.”
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