WHO IS AN OMBUDSMAN ~Marshall Israel

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The Ombudsman is an official appointed by Government to Investigate and report on Complaints by members of the Public concerning the administrative action of any Public authority, companies or their officials, and other matter ancillary thereto.

The Public Complaints Commission is the Nigerian aspect of the global Ombudsman Institution. It was set up by Decree 31 of 1975. This decree was later amended and entrenched in the constitution Which became known as Cap 377 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990.

SPECIFIC MANDATE OF THE COMMISSION UNDER THE ACT.
The Commissioner has wide powers to Investigate either on his own initiative or following Complaints lodged before him by any person, any administrative action taken by:
1. Any department or Ministry of the Federal or any State Government.

2. Any statutory corporation or public Institution set up by any Government in Nigeria.

3. Any department of any Local Government Authority set up in any State in the Federation.

4. Any Company incorporated under or pursuant to the Companies and allied Matters Act whether owned by any Government aforesaid or by private individuals in Nigeria.

5. Any officer or Servant of any of the aforementioned bodies.

COMPLAINTS OR CASES ENTERTAINED AND INVESTIGATED.

1. Complaints of Wrongful dismissal or termination of appointment.

2. Wrongful stagnation on one post or position.

3. Non-payment of terminal or severance benefits e.g. pension and gratiuty.

4. Wrongful suspension or dismissal from work or school.

5. Non-payment of entitlements e.g. contracts, salaries, insurance claims etc.

6. Non-payment of death benefits.

7. Non issuance of certificates, wrongful rustication and Complaints against examination bodies.

8. Suggest some changes in the laws of the Country as to improve the efficiency of the Public Service.

9. Investigate cases of incompetence, use of false documents and inconsistency in the application of Civil Service Rules by civil servants.

10. Investigate such cases of corruption, bribery and nepotism or favouritsm against Public Servants.

ADMINISTRATIVE ACTS OF BOTH PUBLIC AND PRIVATE OFFICIALS NORMALLY INVESTIGATED.

According to section 5.(2)(d),the Act says every Commissioner shall ensure that administrative action by any person or body does not result in the commitment of act of injustice against any citizen of Nigeria or any other person resident in Nigeria,and for that purpose he shall investigate with special care administrative acts which or appear to be:

1.Contrary to any law or regulation.

2.Mistaken in law or arbitrary in the ascertainment of fact.

3.Unreasonable, unfair, oppressive or inconsistent with the general functions of administrative organs.

4.Improper in motivation or based on irrelevant considerations.

5.Unclear or inadequately explained or

6.Otherwise Objectionable.

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RESTRICTIONS AND LIMITATIONS OF THE COMMISSION.

According to section 6(1),
A Commissioner shall not investigate any matter :-

a) that is clearly outside his terms of reference.

b) that is pending before the National Assembly,the National council of state or the National council of Ministers.

c) that is pending before any court of law in Nigeria.

d) Relating to anything done or purported to be done in respect of any member of the:
Armed Forces in Nigeria or the Nigeria Police under the Nigeria Army ACT, Navy Act, the Airforce Act,or the Police Act.

e)In which the the complainant has not,in the opinion of the Commissioner, exhausted all available legal or administrative procedures.

f) Relating to any act or thing done before 29th July 1975,or in respect of which complaint is lodged later than twelve months after the date of the act or thing done from which the complaint arose.

g)in which the complainant has no special interest.

What are you waiting for? Why die in silence or take laws into your hands?
The PUBLIC COMPLAINTS COMMISSION is there for you in every State of the Federation including the FCT and her services are practically free of charge.

Marshall Israel is a Federal Commissioner representing Rivers State and supervising Bayelsa State in the Public Complaints Commission and writes from Portharcourt.

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