Complaints That The Public Complaints Commission Can Handle

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Complaints That The Public Complaints Commission Can Handle. Daily Law Tips (Tip 686) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LL.M, ACIArb(UK)

 Introduction: 

In Nigeria, there is a federal agency empowered to control administrative excesses (non- adherence to procedures or abuse of law). It is a created by the Federal Government of Nigeria, to receive and treat complaints of administrative injustice from any person in Nigeria. The agency is the Public Complaints Commission (PCC), it is Nigeria’s Ombudsman. This work will expose the very restricted powers of the Public Complaints Commission (PCC) and the types of complaints that the PCC can handle. 

Relevant Powers of the Public Complaints Commission: 

The Public Complaints Commission (PCC) has powers to investigate any matter, where there is injustice against any person by any government office, ministry, department, agency or corporation. This includes, where an administrative decision is (i) contrary to any law or regulation; (ii) mistaken in law or arbitrary in the ascertainment of fact; (iii) unreasonable, unfair, oppressive or inconsistent with the general functions of administrative organs; (iv) improper in motivation or based on irrelevant considerations; (v) unclear or inadequately explained; or (vi) otherwise objectionable.

Complaints That Can Be Handled By the Public Complaints Commission: 

Generally, the Public Complaints Commission can handle complaints against injustice, involving any government office or non-government office (private company or public company). 

According to information on the website of the PCC, below is a list of types of companies that the PCC can handle. It is important to note that, the PCC will reject and refuse to handle any complaint that is outside its powers. In some cases, the PCC may transfer rejected complaints to the appropriate relevant agencies, with the needed power to handle rejected complaints. 

  1. Delay in payment of gratuity, land compensation e.t.c.
  2. Non-payment of goods bought or service rendered to government department and corporate bodies.
  3. Wrongful termination of appointment or dismissal
  4. Difficulty in getting insurance companies to pay claims.
  5. Loss of postal documents or parcel by courier companies
  6. Non-issuance of appointment letter or non-adherence to the Labour Act by private companies
  7. Non-refund of contributions by the National Housing Fund, and other mortgage institutions.
  8. Unjust and indefinite suspension and interdiction.
  9. Non- issuance of share certificate/dividend warrant or outright cheating by financial institution.
  10. Non-issuance of result/certificate/ill-treatment by examination bodies, schools and higher institutions.

Restrictions to the Powers of the Public Complaints Commission: 

However, there are numerous statutory restrictions (limitations) to the powers of the Public Complaints Commission (PCC), that made the PCC seem like a toothless lion. The federal law that set up the PCC to investigate administrative injustice, at the same time, limits the PCC from investigating administrative injustice that happens or that may concern; the Nigeria Police Force, the Armed Forces Act or the Police Act. 

Also, the PCC is at liberty not to entertain any matter where the PCC believes that all available legal or administrative procedures have not been used/exhausted by a complainant. This suggests that the PCC is to work on administrative injustice after even the courts have given judgments (ie, legal procedures have been exhausted), this is practically impossible. Where there is a court judgment (even from the lowest courts, like Magistrate Courts), no administrative panel or government commission, including the PCC, can attempt to revisit the case. This obviously creates confusion on the relevance of the PCC and greatly calls for a legislative amendment of the Public Complaints Commission Act. 

Recommendation and Conclusion:  

The Public Complaints Commission (PCC) is a creation of a federal law made since October 1975, without obvious need for legislative amendments. There is need to remove the restrictions on the power of the PCC, to inquire and investigate complaints that concern the Nigeria Police Force, the Armed Forces Act or the Police Act, especially where it involves a non-member of the forces. The PCC has a duty to create enlightenment and this is greatly needed across Nigeria. Most Nigerians know little or nothing about the PCC and the PCC must change this narrative. 

My authorities, are:

  1. Sections 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 11 and 12 of the Public Complaints Commission, 1975.  
  2. About Us, Public Complaints Commission (PCC) < https://pcc.gov.ng > accessed 29 October 2020. 
  3. Onyekachi Umah, ‘How To Sue the Nigeria Police Force and Police Officers’ (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 16 October 2020)<https://learnnigerianlaws.com/endpolicebrutality-how-to-sue-the-nigeria-police-force-and-police-officers/ > accessed 29 October 2020.

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