PROFILE: Bolaji Owasanoye: The new man to lead Nigeria’s second major anti-graft agency


The Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, on Tuesday nominated Bolaji Owasanoye, a professor of law, as the new Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC.

Mr. Owasanoye will steer the affairs of the anti-graft agency for next five years with 13 other members whose tenure is for four years, subject to confirmation by the Senate.

The new chairman takes over from Ekpo Nta, whose five-year tenure expired in June and who has been redeployed to the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages as a full-time commissioner.

With his appointment, Mr. Owasanoye becomes the fourth substantive chairman of the commission since it was established by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration in 1999.

The past chairmen were Mustapha Akanbi and Emmanuel Ayoola (both justices) and Mr. Nta.

Four others were chairmen in acting capacity. They were Uriah Angulu, a professor; Rose Abang-Wushishi; and Abdullahi Bako, a lawyer.

The 54-year old Mr. Owasanoye was the Executive Secretary of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, PACAC, appointed in August 2015 to inter alia “promote the reform agenda of the government on the anti-corruption effort, to advise the present government on the prosecution of the war against corruption and the implementation of required reforms in Nigeria’s criminal justice system.”

He graduated from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife (formerly University of Ife) in 1984 at the age of 20 with an LL.B Upper Division and was called to the Bar in 1985.

He thereafter proceeded to the University of Lagos where he bagged an LL.M in 1987 at 24.

Mr. Owasanoye moved from the University of Lagos where he was assistant lecturer to the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, NIALS where he became a professor of law in 2001 at the age of 38. His areas of specialization are Commercial and International Trade Law, Corporate Law, Child Rights and Human Rights Law and Strategic Governance and the Law of External Debt Management.

He also served as two-time Director of Research and became the first to be conferred with the Teslim Elias Distinguished Professor of Law.

He won other awards such as the University of Lagos Scholarship Award (1986-1987); UN Institute for Training and Research Fellowship Award (1991 and 1994); US Information Service International Visitors Award (1991); British Council Fellowship Award (1992); International Youth Foundation Fellowship on Youth and Community Development (1992-2000) and Senior Special Fellowship, UN Institute for Training and Research (2001).

He was also at other institutions such as the Royal Institute of Public Administration in the UK and the International Law Institute, Washington, USA.

The new ICPC boss also worked as a consultant for federal and state agencies in Nigeria and international agencies, including UINTAR, ILO, USAID, UNICEF, DfID, World Bank, World Bank Institute, Ford Foundation, WLAFEM and ECOWAS.

At NIALS, he served as the executive director of the institute’s journal, “Current Law Review” and was also as the editor of REPRO-MAT, the Reproductive Rights Newsletter.

He has not only published several articles in local and foreign journals but also presented papers in law conferences, seminars and workshop.

As a women and child rights activist, Mr. Owasanoye coordinated the NIALS Ford Foundation Rights of Child Project between 1992 and 1996. He presented many papers at UN events during which he canvassed for the need for the right of children to be upheld in all the nations of the world.

He also coordinated the NIALS Project on the annotation of the Laws of Federation of Nigeria.

In 1997, he co-founded the Human Development Initiative, HDI, a non-profit organisation whose objective is to champion human capacity development, especially at the grassroots.

The organisation has successfully implemented about 50 advocacy projects on human rights, rule of law, governance and anti-corruption. One of them is “Stop Impunity in Nigeria.”

In August 2015, Mr. Owasanoye was named a member/executive secretary of the seven-member PACAC.

A former Assistant Chaplain at the UNILAG Chapel of Christ our Light and currently a member of the clergy at the Aso Villa Chapel in the State House, Mr. Owasanoye has been one of the most vocal members of the advisory body and indeed one of the advocates of the Proceeds of Crime bill, Whistle-blower and Witness Protection Bill passed by the National Assembly recently.

While canvassing passage of the Bill, he once lamented that “the lack of POCA, (Proceeds of Crime Act), Whistle-blower, Witness Protection laws was a slow down to effective campaign against corruption.”

In June, the new ICPC chairman had insisted that the Nigerian judiciary had the most important role to play in the effort to change the country’s corruption status or rating.

“Improving the sanctions and enforcement regime in anti-corruption campaigns is crucial,” he said.

“It involves the commitment of all players in the administration of criminal justice such as the prosecution, the defence, the judiciary, the prison authorities.

“In this regard, however, the judiciary ranks far above other players in importance. In Botswana, the judiciary played a salutary role in improving the ranking of the country in anti-corruption initiatives.”

Mr. Owasanoye is coming to ICPC at a time some reforms are believed to have been introduced by the outgoing leadership to give the fight against corruption a bite since 2012.

In a recent interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Mr. Nta spoke glowingly about those reforms.

He said, “The immediate mandate is that the quality of the cases going to the court has improved, I have had more convictions since coming in than previously. We’ve had a lot more petitions coming in because I have introduced electronic processes for reporting petitions to the commission. I have introduced a toll-free line so that you don’t have to use your money to call us. If you call us with the line you will not be charged.”

Regardless, one area Mr. Nta perceptibly failed but which Nigerians will expect Mr. Owasanoye and his team to tackle is the issue of allegations of corruption against former state governors.

The outgoing chairman had put the number of cases against the former governors at 32 but lamented the inability of the ICPC to prosecute them due to lack of funds.

“They didn’t provide the funding,” Mr. Nta said. “Note that it was the special investigator that was to look at all this but what I have done now, I have taken a much more proactive step by requesting the amendment of the ICPC Act that when such instances reoccur, the matters should have preliminary investigations by the ICPC because we have the personnel that can do the investigations. When we are satisfied with the investigation we can now transmit that to the CJN (Chief Justice of Nigeria) if he wants to continue with that process.”

With his wealth of experience and that of his team in the academic and public sector, Mr. Owasanoye may just be the joker the Buhari administration has been waiting for to strengthen the anti-corruption crusade. Perhaps, under the watch of the erudite professor of law, ICPC will not only bark but may begin to bite.


Now available on

  Premium Times Android mobile applicationPremium Times iOS mobile applicationPremium Times blackberry mobile applicationPremium Times windows mobile application

TEXT AD:DIABETES Is CURABLE! Don't Let It Threaten You! To NORMALIZE Your Blood Sugar In 21Days For Life, Click Here!!!.

All rights reserved. This material and any other material on this platform may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, written or distributed in full or in part, without written permission from PREMIUM TIMES.


    I have been following this man for a while. He knows what to do, the question is; will he do it?

    If he does his job, within 6 months many of the thieves in corridors of power will voluntarily resign to go and face their court cases as soon as they realize that ‘this time, its for real and this is the real thing’.! For now, the thieves know the corruption fight is going nowhere.

    The Ex Governor of Jigawa state has a Bench Warrant hanging over his head for 4 YEARS! Hes evaded justice for 4 whole years. meanwhile, he was a regular fixture at most high level social and political events! He was hiding in plain sight and was not afraid!The court was trying to compel him to appear to answer a case of corrupt enrichment running into Billions of Naira.

    He evaded justice for 4 whole years. EFCC finally summoned the courage to arrested him and he guess what? He was promptly granted bail by a court! LOL! In fact, Hes asking the court to grant him permission to travel abroad for some reason. Only in Nigeria.

    When other corrupt people see how the Jigawa man is evading the law and being treated with unimaginable leniency, why will they not continue stealing or thinking there is no consequence for their stealing?

    The other major problem is the Judiciary. Please don’t ask me to be diplomatic. The Judiciary is a cesspool of corruption right from the leadership, down to the court registrars and to the bailiffs etc. The judiciary is a HUGE part of Nigerians corruption problem. Don’t tell me that i generalize, when we talk about more than 60% of something being bad we can conclude/generalize that that thing is BAD.

    Ex ICPC Chairman; Nta was a disaster and directly culpable for the impunity of the corrupt. The ICPC under Nta was only an expert in organizing seminars and events and did little to fight corruption. When Nta spoke at these events you could smell complicity by his utter lack of effectiveness and conviction.

    Let the ICPC under go a rebirth, Let the corrupt start to experience sleepless nights and hypertension. Let them regret their actions and be brought to shame. Let their children and family learn that their parents where dishonorable people.

    Let the corrupt men and women share the anguish and pain of the poor people of Nigeria who have suffered under the tyranny and rape of the elites.

    i hope this new man doesn’t disappoint in ICPC.

  • chiemex

    stories that touch

  • George

    North took President, SSS, EFCC, SENATE, house of rep., ARMY, CUSTOM, AND Yoruba have VP, icpc, what is Igbo and South South HAVE NOTHING. This is one Nigeria according to the constitution or what?

  • callistus u owuamanam

    Na today we begin see profile? The problem is that this country, is a country with people with the highest profile, highest rank, highest title. make una leave all the praises of individuals. Nobody will tell us of titles, profile etc. Who we tell to do something, make him do am well first, na we go begin find out which title this man we de form wonders get.

    • Damilare Ajani

      Thanks my brother. The resume is not even impressive, and doesn’t not fit job descriptions. Hwy can you appointments a corporate lawyer to prosecutorial job?? Misplaced priority.

  • Premium News Editor

    This is to ìnform thè general republic that

    Däñgoté3x cement ïs nøw sôld

    díréct fròm thè fäctory for #1400 per bäg

    #300 tó delìver per bäg,

    indìvìdual càn ordér a mìñimum of 1OObägs, trailer load of 6OObàgs,träiler load of 900bägs trailer lòad of 14OObägs

    and abõvé contäct thé sälès Mr Ojekere on (0706538/3208) or assìstant säles mänäger Mrs Märy on (0813206/6217) for ïnfo.

  • Justin

    1. ICPC wasn’t established in 1999, but on June 13, 2000. 2. Ekpo Nta’s tenure didn’t end in June, 2017, but will end in September, 2017.

  • wode

    I think this is a very good appointment – “former” member of PACAC, who also share the vision of the Anti-corruption drive, heading one of the ant-corruption agencies.

    Let’s hope for better performance in the fight against corruption. We need to kill corruption before it kills us.

    Kudos to the Presidency.