Sani Omolori, clerk of the national assembly, will remain in office despite attaining the legal requirement for retirement, TheCable can report.
Omolori, who started his civil service career on February 6, 1985, was due to retire last month but will stay for another five years after an amendment of the conditions of service of the national assembly staff — considered to be illegal in some quarters.
TheCable gathered that the amendment, which was secretly effected through a bill tagged the “Retirement age and conditions of service bill”, increased the requirement of retirement for the staff to 65 years or 40 years of pensionable service, contrary to civil service rules.
Sources privy to the matter told TheCable the bill was secretly approved towards the end of the tenure of the previous assembly despite rejection by many lawmakers, including those now in leadership position at the two legislative chambers.
Although the amendment covers all staff of the national assembly commission, Omolori and some top officials including Giwa Anonkhai, clerk of the house of representatives and Olusanya Ajakaye, secretary of the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) are the main beneficiaries, according to those aware of the issue.
Ajakaye, who was born on August 19, 1959, was due to retire in August last year, while Anonkhai, born on November 25, 1960, is due to retire in November.
Contrary to the tradition of the house, the new amendment was approved without public hearing and other critical stages a bill passes through before being passed. Its implementation also took effect without the assent of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The whole thing was done quickly and referred to a joint committee where they reconciled the differences,” one of those who worked closely with the clerk’s office on the matter told TheCable.
LAWMAKERS BREACHING THE LAW
The civil service rules, which guide the conduct of civil service in the country, stipulate 60 years of age or 35 years of pensionable service as requirement for retirement, with the exception of judicial officials.
Section 8 (020810) of the rules states: “(i) The compulsory retirement age for all grades in the Service shall be 60 years or 35 years of pensionable service whichever is earlier.
“(ii) No officer shall be allowed to remain in service after attaining the retirement age of 60 years or 35 years of pensionable service whichever is earlier.
“(iii) The provision of (i) and (ii) of this Rule is without prejudice to prevailing requirements for Judicial Officers and Academic Staff of Universities and other tertiary institutions who retire at 70 and 65 years respectively.”
Despite the provisions of the rules, top lawmakers in the previous assembly smuggled in the amendment bill allegedly with the backing of the national assembly management.
A source that was involved in the amendment process said: “It (the amendment) was secretly done in the form of a bill towards the end of tenure of the eight assembly. The senate rejected it but the house of representatives approved the extension by five years.
“So, they set up a conference committee which met and approved it. And it was done in such a way that it will not need the approval of the president to come into effect. It was not done through the normal procedure.”
For an institution charged with the responsibility of making laws, the move was said to have infuriated many of the lawmakers who saw it as an outright breach of the law.
Among those lawmakers are Ahmad Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila who are both now senate president and speaker of the house of representatives respectively.
TheCable gathered both leaders have distanced themselves from both the amendment and its implementation.
“Both the speaker and senate president are against it; they said it can’t stand and that what is the difference between them (the management staff) and others in the public service?” a source privy to the matter told TheCable on Friday.
“Eve as at then, there were a lot of other lawmakers too who were against it and were protesting but nothing much could be done.”
TheCable could not reach Omolori for comments. Yahaya Danzaria, director, public affairs at the national assembly, declined comments on the matter when contacted on Friday.
“I will not be able to answer now… meet me in my office on Monday,” he told TheCable over the phone.