27 days after rejecting her resignation, Buhari removes Oyo-Ita as head of civil service

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has removed Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita from the position of head of Nigeria’s civil service and instructed her to proceed on an indefinite leave.

This was announced on Wednesday evening through a press statement issued by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and signed by Willie Bassey, the office’s Director of Information.

Titled ‘Stabilisation of the Federal Civil Service’, the release also said Folashade Yemi-Esan will be taking over from Oyo-Ita in an acting capacity while investigations by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) into allegations of financial fraud against the former head of service are concluded.

Yemi-Esan has been permanent secretary of the ministries of education and petroleum resources.

“The President has also approved the extension of the tenure of seven (7) retiring Permanent Secretaries for a period of one calendar year with effect from 1st October, 2019 to ensure stability in the Federal Civil Service and effective delivery on the nine priority areas of the administration as well as the mandates given to the new Ministers,” the statement continued.

The seven are Georgina Ehuriah of the Ministry of Interior, Ifeoma Anagbogu of the Ministry of Women Affairs, Grace Gekpe of the Ministry of Information and Culture, Umar Bello of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Suleiman Mustapha Lawal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Comfort Ekaro of the Ministry of Water Resources, and Olusegun Adekunle of the General Services Office, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

“Similarly, Mr. President has directed the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to commence the process for the selection of new Permanent Secretaries to replace all retiring Permanent Secretaries,” the release said.

“The decision of Government to extend the tenure of these Permanent Secretaries is premised on the need to ensure that the new Ministers are properly guided, briefed about their sectors and to ensure that a solid foundation is laid for the delivery on the Presidential Mandate which they jointly signed.

“The Permanent Secretaries will also help the Ministers to manage the process for the preparation of the 2020 Budget in line with the commitment of Government to return to the January-December budget circle and help develop various policies and programmes aimed at lifting 100million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years.”

    Oyo-Ita had a month earlier submitted her resignation, which was rejected by Buhari on August 22.

    She is presently caught in a N3 billion bribery scandal, as the EFCC has probed her over allegations that she used proxy companies to secure contracts while still a permanent secretary.

    Before her invitation by the commission, N600 million was traced to the account of one of her aides, who was interrogated by the EFCC and was afterwards released.

    Oyo-Ita has refuted the allegation and said the money was rather meant for death benefits of staff.

    'Kunle works with The ICIR as an investigative reporter and fact-checker. You can shoot him an email via [email protected] or, if you're feeling particularly generous, follow him on Twitter @KunleBajo.

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