The Board Chairman of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), Tonye Clinton Jaja, has condemned the comments against him by members of the commission.
The officials had declared they did not endorse Jaja’s letter seeking removal of the Director-General, John Asein.
The chairman, in a letter dated September 22, 2020, requested that President Muhammadu Buhari suspend and investigate Asein over alleged violations.
But the board members in a memo to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, dissociated themselves.
Maria Towo Austin-Odigie, the Federal Ministry of Justice representative and four others, representing other sectors, signed it.
In his reaction sent to Newspot, Jaja declared that he would institute a court case against the signatories.
“Since their purported letter is in itself a violation of certain relevant laws, I am under obligation to take legal action against them by reporting it to the authorities”, he noted.
The chairman said since he took a strong stance against “certain corrupt staff, officials and board members”, there have been unrelenting attacks on his reputation as well as threats to life.
Jaja explained that the reason for the suspension recommendation was because the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) are investigating the NCC chief.
“Mr. John Asein is currently under investigation by these agencies for abuse of office, corruption and conflict of interest by his operation as the sole signatory to the Domiciliary Bank Account of Reproduction Rights Society of Nigeria (REPRONIG), one of the private organizations regulated by the NCC.
“The recommendation of the Governing Board members was that Mr. John Asein should be placed on suspension until completion of the investigation by the Code of Conduct Bureau.
The letter to His Excellency Mr President was written through the Hon. Minister of Justice and copied to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
“Suspension of public officials undergoing investigation is the general rule of law, and a tradition in the public service as prescribed in the Public Service Rules and other extant laws of Nigeria. The Commissioner of Police of Anambra State, who coincidentally is a member of the Governing Board of the NCC, also wrote in support of the suspension of Mr. John Asein,” he noted.
Jaja recalled that he honoured a CCB invitation via a letter dated August 14, 2020, and submitted oral and written statement about the ongoing investigation of Asein’s “weighty allegations”.
The chairman disclosed that he further deposed to an affidavit at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory to authenticate the truthfulness of his submissions to the CCB.
“If the members of the Governing Board of the NCC are convinced about the innocence of Mr. John Asein, they can swear to an affidavit before any High Court of Justice that the allegations of conflict of interest, infractions of the Code of Conduct Legislation, and abuse of office by Mr. John Asein the false allegations, then we can believe them.
“They can go a step further by submitting their sworn affidavits to the Code of Conduct Bureau and the ICPC, which is the proper forum to ventilate their greviances. The pages of newspapers is not the proper forum”, Jaja insisted.