(By Iheanyi Ezinwo) – The Public Complaints Commission, PCC, office in Rivers State is inundated daily with petitions from citizens seeking redresses for one administrative injustice injustice or the other.
This hint was given by the Commissioner in charge of the Commission’s office in Rivers State, Dr. Alpheus Paul – Worika, in a chat with Notable Outcome in his office located on the eight floor at the Federal Secretariat in Port Harcourt.
Dr. Paul -Worika explained that the mandate of the Public Complaints Commission was to receive and address complaints from members of the public on issues of administrative injustice.
According to him, their interventions extends to all tiers of government as well as companies registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission in Nigeria that are operating in Rivers State.
“It is our duty to look into any complaints of administrative infractions by any legal entity and ensure that the complainant gets redress”, he said.
Responding to a question, the Commissioner observed that
most Nigerians have a certain mindset concerning law and order.
“The belief is that, law and order can be achieved or effective when those who run foul of the law are punished, but the onbudsman philosophy is to guarantee redress in such a manner that is subtle. The approach is that of persuasion.
“When a matter is brought before us, a complaint is raised and the Commission sends out her staff to investigate.
“We call and write to the parties involved, tell them of the complaint and get their responses. Where there are hurting issues, we call a Case Conference and then the parties involved sit with us and we discuss.And most times, we get results that are more enduring”, the Commissioner further explained.
Dr. Alpheus Paul – Worika also clarified that, where the matter is criminal in nature, the Commission reports it to the Police, and if it is a fraud case they call the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and if it is a corruption case, the attention of the Independent Corrupt Practices Corruption are drawn to the matter, adding that all the agencies work together as a team.
As a semi- judicial body, according to the Commissioner, the PCC is empowered by law to resolve conflicts that are administrative in nature, and if they have taken a decision in the course of their work, such resolutions are recognised in the Court of Law, which can however, go further to make pronouncements that are judicial in nature.
The Rivers State Commissioner in charge of Public Complaints Commission maintained that their decisions are binding on the parties, and that there is a fine for any one who neglects to honour their summons or decision.
According to him, the PCC Act is being amended, and there is a provision to increase the fine to 500 thousand Naira.
“The proposed Act also provides trial of recalcitrant respondents by a Mobile Court to ensure that justice is served to all concerned to guarantee peace in the society.
“We receive complaints daily from people who petition the Commissioner in charge of the Commission’s affairs in the state and issues are resolved diplomatically.
“Petitioners do not need a lawyer unless, may be, in drafting the petition inorder to fill all the gaps”, he further explained, stressing however that their work is at no cost to the petitioners.