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Promoting Good Governance.

Staff accuse NILS boss, Ladi Hamalai, of severally violating Code of Conduct Act

‘CONCERNED staff’ of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILS), in a letter sent to The ICIR, have alleged that the Director-General, Ladi Hamalai, is contravening the Code of Conduct for public officers by accepting two full-time jobs concurrently.

The workers, who said they had to speak after having exhausted all internal mechanisms to seek resolution, pleaded to keep their identities anonymous “to prevent any negative reprisals”. The DG, they said, “has a track record of punishing former staff of the institute who dared to report her for violations of federal civil service rules” — citing the example of Kanayo Oguijiba.

They pleaded that the Code of Conduct Bureau investigates the allegation that Hamalai has accepted two full-time jobs without resigning her current job.

“In the year 2017 and 2018 respectively, Mrs. Ladi Hamalai was appointed as a professor of political science by both the Nasarawa State University and the University of Benin respectively,” they wrote.

“She has continued to hold these two positions without resigning her position as the Director-General, a position that she has held since the year 2011.”

Meanwhile, section 6 of the 1991 Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act provides that a public officer shall not “receive or be paid the emoluments of any public office at the same time as he receives or is paid the emoluments of any other public office”.

The section’s second paragraph prohibits, for public officers employed on a full-time basis, the participation in the management of any private business, profession or trade outside farming.

The ICIR has not been able to independently verify the claim as student sources in the departments in both schools are not familiar with the recent employment of Hamalai. It is however known that NILS is accredited by the National Universities Commission to run a post-graduate programme in affiliation with the University of Benin.

This covers Master’s Degrees and Postgraduate Diplomas in Legislative Drafting, Legislative Studies and Parliamentary Administration. Findings show that Hamalai is a faculty member for this programme and also serves as a project supervisor.

The NILS staff members also alleged “the use of public funds and federal government vehicles to convey persons from Abuja to Mubi in Adamawa State to attend the coronation ceremony of the Ladi Hamalai” the previous weekend.

As reported and celebrated on the NILS website in August, she was bestowed with the title of Jakadiya Mubi by the Emir of Mubi, Alhaji Abubakar Isa Ahmadu “in recognition of her contribution to the Mubi community, Adamawa State”.

The Jakadiya is a traditional title of inheritance given to females of a lineage in Adamawa. The person on whom it is bestowed is symbolically a leader of female servants as she is entitled to see the king anytime and is an intermediate between him and his wives. She is an integral part in the royal household and palace community, and her influence in the household has political significance.

Sources who spoke to The ICIR, including a chieftain of Gumel emirate in Jigawa, explained that, though the relevance of the Jakadiya has dwindled over time, it is still regarded as a chieftaincy title and most kings in Northern Nigeria have someone occupying the role.

The conferment of this title on the NILS DG appears to contradict a circular, with reference number HCSF/062/S.I/V/1/7, issued by Bukar Goni Aji, former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation.

“It has come to the attention of the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation that some Civil Servants are in the practice of soliciting chieftaincy titles and other sundry neutrality which are core values of the Civil Service,” the circular, issued on June 20, 2013, states.

“Accordingly, serving officers are hereby banned from accepting chieftaincy titles until after retirement from service. This is to stem the observed abuse in the award of these titles and shield the civil servants from unnecessary distraction from our core responsibilities.

“However, where a civil servant must hold a traditional title bestowed on him/her by inheritance or receive any award, due clearance must be obtained from the Secretary to the Government of the Federation through the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF). This circular takes immediate effect.”

It is not clear if Hamalai obtained clearance from the Office of the Head of Civil Service as stipulated. Calls placed to the office were not answered and texts sent on Thursday, December 13, have not been replied. When The ICIR contacted Lawrence Ojabo, (former) Press Director of the OSGF, he explained that he is retired from service and does not know about the required information.

Another similar issue of concern raised by the workers is that Hamalai accepted to be inducted as a fellow of the Institute of Directors (IoD) of Nigeria. This, they said, has possibly violated federal civil service code and regulations — specifically a circular issued on April 6, 1998, with reference number 58358/S.5/C.1/32.

Signed by then Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Gidado Idris, the circular reads: “The government has observed with concern that the time honoured practice of honouring deserving persons with honourary degrees, diplomas, fellowships, etc. is being abused.”

It adds: “Accordingly, serving public officers are hereby banned from accepting honorary degrees, fellowships, etc. from local or foreign universities, polytechnics and other higher institutions. This, of course, does not apply to fellowships and memberships awarded by accredited professionals bodies to their bonafide members.”

However, checks by The ICIR show that there is no violation at play. This is because, according to information available on the institute’s website, the fellowship grade is open to members who, among other requirements, have been in the institute “for a minimum of 10 years with unblemished character”.

Though the IoD also confers honorary fellowship awards, Tola Ekundayo speaking on behalf of the institute confirmed to our reporter that Hamalai is a “full-blown fellow”, which is only for someone who has been a member for a period. The final exception in the circular available for fellowships “awarded by accredited professionals bodies to their bonafide members” is therefore applicable to her.

All attempts made by The ICIR to get a statement from Hamalai were not successful. An aide close to her, who requested not to be named because he does not have clearance to speak on the subject, said the Director-General is aware of the allegations.

He also said there is nothing in the story that cannot be defended and “there is no substance to any of those things”, adding that he will seek authorisation to speak formally as soon as he resumes work when the holidays come to an end.

The NILS boss was in the news in February 2016 over allegations of plagiarism levelled against her by Kanayo Oguijiba, a senior research fellow in the institute. Oguijiba, whose employment has since been terminated, wrote a petition to the senate accusing the DG of vicitimising him due to his knowledge of the plagiarism charge against her by a foreign publishing company.

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