Public Complaints Commission As An Instrument For Redressing Administrative Injustice In Nigeria: An Analysis

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Project and Seminar material for Public Administration


This research study on Public Complaints Commission as an Instrument for Redressing Administrative Injustice in Nigeria: An Analysis was motivated by one basic factor, to unravel how Public Complaints Commission can improve Public Administration in Nigeria. The major problems that have trailed public complaint commission (PCC) in Nigeria are mostly that of enforcement of its decision and recommendation to compel people to appear before it. The methodology and design adopted for the study were both explanatory and analytical, considering the secondary nature of the work.

The major findings of the work were that the public complaints commission has suffered poor publicity, inadequate government assistance, lack of security, logistic, poor funding, inadequate manpower development and inability of the commission to investigate cases pending in the court. The armed forces and some top government officials. Based on the above findings, it is recommend that there should be public enlightenment campaigns, provision of adequate security, logistic, funding, training and retraining of staff and above all the commission should be fully empowered.

Table Of Content

Preliminary Page(s)

  • Title page
  • Certification
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgement
  • Abstract
  • Table of Content

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

  • 1.1 Background of the study
  • 1.2 Statement of the problem
  • 1.3 Objective of the study
  • 1.4 Research Question
  • 1.5 Statement of Hypothesis
  • 1.6 Significant of the study
  • 1.7 Scope of the study
  • 1.8 Limitation of the study
  • 1.9 Definition of term

Chapter Two

2.0 Literature Review

  • 2.1 Introduction
  • 2.2 Five kinds of Ombudsman in Sweden
  • 2.3 The first significant call for the establishment of the Ombudsman in Nigeria
  • 2.4 Distinct Attributes of the Ombudsman.
  • 2.5 The role of the Ombudsman
  • 2.6 The problem /Limitation of the Ombudsman
  • 2.7 The organizational framework
  • 2.8 Processing of complaints
  • 2.9 Complaints within the commission Jurisdiction.
  • 2.10 Cases Handle by the Public Complaints Commission
  • 2.11 Recommendation after investigation
  • Reference

Chapter Three

3.0 Research Methodology

  • 3.1 Introduction
  • 3.2 Research Design
  • 3.3 Sources / methods of Data collection
  • 3.4 Population and sample size
  • 3.5 sampling technique
  • 3.6 Validity and reliability of measuring Instrument
  • 3.7 Method of Data Collection

Chapter Four

4.0 Presentation and Analysis of Data

  • 4.1 Introduction
  • 4.2 presentation of Data
  • 4.3 Analysis of Data
  • 4.4 Test of Hypothesis
  • 4.5 Interpretation of results

Chapter Five

5.0 Summary of Finding, Conclusion and Recommendation

  • 5.1 Introduction
  • 5.2 Summary of findings
  • 5.3 Conclusion
  • 5.4 Recommendation
  • Reference.

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

Rigid Bureaucracy, administrative excesses, abuse of office and due process violation of even the most basic human rights, unwarranted, aggression, oppression, repression, and suppression by those in the corridors of power and their surrogates and collaborators, high- handedness and insensitivity by self–perceived super bureaucrats and tin- gods- even in the face of demonstrable incompetence- corruption, arbitrary dismissals, terminations and retirements. Unbridled, unprincipled and flagrant violations of lawfully laid down rules and regulations and a myriad of excesses are very common daily occurrences in human and interactions. They are as old as the history of homosapian can be remembered and still do exist at present a greater or lesser extent in any society and enterprises.

In the African Administrative, social and other milieu these excesses can be very gross and traumatic, especially for subordinates and the less privileges and down-trodden of the society observance of human rights is a corollary function of social Justice and equity both of which are important desideratum of a peaceful, harmonies and stable social order. Policies designed to check or redress the above canker worm that militate against an equitable social order and stability are necessary unperative in any civilized society.
Except the above can be assured and guaranteed, peace and harmony, ‘9d indeed civilization, can slide into chaos and anarchy.

The vesting of such policies and the application of the instruments pertaining thereto, and arising from the policies, must be divulged on trust worthy, humane and dispassionate bodies’ personalities etc. The Public Complaints Commission (The Nigeria type of Ombudsman) was established with a mandate to fill these voids.

1.1 Background Of The Study

During the colonial rule in Nigeria, the colonial administrators recruited indigenous educated citizens to serve in the lower ranks of its administrative system as clear, technical staff and other auxillary staff. The disparity in the pay system and services conditions between the white colonial staff and their Nigeria counterparts soon gave rise to agitation for improved working conditions.

This in turn resulted in the colonial master striking back with sanctions against the indigenous owners who were identified as ring leaders of the worker group. These people were made to suffer a lot of social injustice ranging from unjustly relieving them of their duties without adequate compensation to other type of maltreatment.
Nigeria attained independence from British colonial rule in 1960. in the face depending crises of the word capitalist economy, the struggle by workers for better working condition reached an alarming rate whereby resulting in Government adaptation of every authoritarian and fascist tendencies in order to further suppress worker agitative tendencies.

By the mid-seventies, military rule in Nigeria had become well entrenched, but which we lately understood to be progressively worse and dictorial yet certain anathemic to civilized society. Arising from the maladies mentioned in the introduction, a cascading decadence had become noticeable in the system while morale among servants had sunken to its lowest ebb. The seeming need to conceal it’s dictatorial excesses and operate same from beneath the façade of democratic norms led to the setting up of the Udoji Commission, by the then military Government. To review the system and make recommendations.

However, outranged by an inept and moribund civil service system, the commission recommended, among others, the setting up of an Ombudsman institution in Nigeria.

True to the recommendation, the public complaints commission was set up as an independent arbiter by the then federal military government. It was established by Decree No 31 of 16th October 1975 and amended by Decree No 21 of 31st May, 1979. in the same year, 1979, the public complaints commission Decree was enshrined in the constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria, under section 274 during General Obasanjo’s Regime before handing over to the democratic interregnum of the Shagari era or the second Republic. During General Babangida’s Regime, there was a National Assembly or what was know as the third Republic which, in 1990 encoded all important and relevant military Decrees into Acts of the National Assembly. Some amendments were made to Decree No 31 of 1975 before it was an Act of the National Assembly, which was codified as chapter 377 (written in legal terms as cap . 377) law of the federation of 1990 edition (or cap. 377 LFN, 1990).

It comparison is drawn from Decree No 31 of 1975 with cap 377 LFN, 1990 the differences or changes is easily noticed for clarity sake the instrument or law establishing the public complaints commission in Nigeria is better referred to now as cap .LFN 1990 and not anymore Decree No 31 of 1975 ( which contents still remain valid all the same).

The law now also from part of the 1999 constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria under section 315. cap 377 LFN, 1990 consists of 12 sections. Section 1 deals with the establishment and tenure of office of the chief and other commissioners, section 3 is on appointment and tenure of other staff; section 4 is the application of the pension Act while section 5 spells out the power and duties of the commission. Restrictions; recommendation after investigation; immunity from legal process; interpretation and short titles are treated in sections 6, 7,8,9,10,11, and 12 respectively. According to Ngwoke (1997:5) the activities of public Administration have become comprehensive and the power of bureaucracy is so great that the numbers of the oppressed are increasing at an alarming rate in the society. There are more problem which impede the speedy dispensation of complaints brought before the commission.

According to Obasi (1997:7) one of the problems of the commission has been poor or limited public knowledge of the existence, functions and modus operandi of the commission.

According to Onyiochi (1998):4), the problem of the section would not have arisen if government officials react favourably to the commission’s recommendation. Rather, Government officials make fun of the Commission because the Public Complaints Commission (PCC) law is silent on the issue of section.

Despite all odds the Commission have been able to live up to the expectation of the founding Fathers or filled the void for I the reason of its formation in the redressing of administrative in injustice and providing succor to the pressed and aggrieved members of the society.

1.2 Statement Of The Problem

The Commission cannot enforce its decision and recommendation. These are left to the Government to decide upon.

  1. The Commission could not reverse or probe the decisions or actions of the court the president, Governors, Ministers, Commissioners, Judge or such other Government Officials in top sensitive political positions.
  2. The Commission could not compel people to appear before it and this may limit the extent of its Thoroughness in such cases.
  3. Fund, in respect of allocations, mostly funds allocated to the commission for its operations over the year have been grossly inadequate.
  4. The emphasis on state security and national interest limits the access of the Ombudsman to vital records, information and document.

1.3 Objective Of The Study

  1. To study the effort of the Commission to enforce its decisions and recommendations.
  2. To study the extent to which the commission have been able to exercise the statutory powers vested on her to protect citizens from bureaucratic excesses of over zealous public officers.
  3. To study how the Government has been able to adequately assist the commission to effectively discharge their services.
  4. To study whether the Government have been able to assist the Commission financially and other wise on the discharging of the services.
  5. To study the constraints that tends to impede the progress of the Commission’s work.

1.4 Research Question

Attempt was made to provide the answers to the following questions in the course of the study.

  1. How does the Public Complaints Commission do redress administrative wrongs meted out as Complaints?
  2. To what extent has the Commission exercised the statutory powers vested on her to obtain redress for the aggrieved parties?
  3. The Public Complaints Commission is it an effective tool for addressing Administrative injustice in Nigeria?
  4. What are the major constraints impeding the speedy redressing of Complaints lodged with the Commission?

1.5 Statement Of Hypothesis

  1. H.o: The Public Complaints Commission is not an effective tool for addressing issue of Administrative injustice in Nigeria.
  2. H.i: The Public Complaints Commission is an effective tool for addressing issues of Administrative injustice in Nigeria.

1.6 Significant Of The Study

This research work represented a symbol of academics achievement having added to the already records of research to social scientist.

The study would be useful to lawmakers, policy makers, Public Administrationist, student Government officials and General Public in Nigeria, in seeing the Commission as a tool for addressing administrative excesses as well as a vital analytical data base for future research work bordering on Public Complaints Commission and necessarily, in the identification of the modus operandi of the icon and their importance as a scientific guide to administration in Nigeria.

Moreso, the work hopes to contribute to existing literature also go ahead to make relevant recommendations on ways of effectively strengthening the public complaints commission in the execution of Complaints for Nigeria Socio-political development and growth.

1.7 Scope Of The Study

The scope of this research work is anchored (based) on Public Complaints Commission as an instrument for redressing administrative injustice in Nigeria. The study adopted the explanatory research and secondary methods of collection were employed.

1.8 Limitation Of The Study

Essentially, a research may experience many types of problems in the course of his study. The magnitude of this, however, will depend on the environment of the researcher. Since the limitations of the study have to do with course of carrying out the study, it is proper and imperative to list out such constraints.

Thus, in the course of carrying out this research work the following limitation were encountered or witnessed by the researcher.

Amongst such limitations were; death of materials, short time needed to complete this study, problem of consistent and accurate data, amongst others, despite these constraints the research finding were reliable as the researcher’s effort overcome the problem.

1.9 Definition Of Terms

The following terms have been defined as they were used in the study. Thus would enhance understanding of the study.

Public Complaints Commission:

In the Nigeria context, it is that Government organisation vested with the power to look into Administrative Complaints lodged before it by members of the public.


According to the Collier’s Encyclopedia defines the Ombudsman as “…………….. a public officials appointed to investigate governmental abuses and the intervene for the ordinary citizens in his dealings with the complex machinery of Government.


It is a systematic, organized and detailed inquiry into and examine with care.


He is a person who has logged a complaint against another person.


The system of official’s rules and ways of doing things that a Government or an organisation has especially when these seem to be too complicated


The act of organizing the works of a business organisation or institution.


The fact of a situation being unfair and of people not being treated equally.

Chapter Five

5.0 Summary Of Finding, Conclusion And Recommendation.

5.1 Introduction

Chapter five of this research work/study places emphasis on establishing the summary, findings, conclusion, recommendations and lastly the presentation of a coordinated reference for the work.

5.2 Summary Of Findings

This study was set out to give/evaluate a critical analysis of the role of public Complaints Commission in redressing Administrative wrongs meted out to citizens of Nigeria, the researcher attempted to briefly review, the views of previous different contributors in this course, with a view in finding out the positive impact of its activities in improving Public administration in Nigeria.

To the end file, research question are formulated to guide the study. Thus, to achieve this purpose, relevant secondary data were collected to form the appropriate sources to enhance detailed analysis from the analysis, the PCC is mandated with a unique role of securing moral equity and justice in the society, , while it is faced with the problem of enlightenment campaign or poor awareness to the rural and even the urban people of the study, problems, objectives, scope, limitation, significant, research questions, statement of hypothesis, and definition of operational terms were all looked at.

In chapter two, different views from different authors were analyzed, through the use of literature review, which enhanced the avenue, for explaining the role of the ombudsman. This chapter also dealt critically on organizational frame work, processing of complaint and cases handled and recommendation.

In chapter three, emphasis was placed on the methodology of this research work which comprises, research design, method of data collection, sampling techniques, validity and reliability of instrument and method of data analysis.

Chapter four is a cursory look at data presentation and analysis of operation hypothesis and interpretation of result.
The issue examined was based on the perception of the public about the activities of the public complaints commission. For this reason, a questionnaire was designed to elicit the responses of the public Complaints Commission workers to the issue being examined.

Conclusively, chapter five dealt with summary, findings, recommendations and conclusion on the research study.

  1. The summary findings of this research work have been both positive and negative.
  2. Results obtained were analyzed and the following were recorded under positive finding.
Positive Finding
  1. The Public Complaint Commission is an instrument for redressing administrative injustice in Nigeria
  2. The PCC have helped to improve public Administration in general by pointing out the weaknesses observed in the law procedures and standard of behaviour of officials.
  3. The commission used persuasion instead of any element of force or imposition of sanction to obtain redress for complaints.
  4. The commission is established in the 36 states of the federation with state headquarters and area offices.
  5. There services are free of charge compare to that of the conventional court.
  6. The commission to a large extent exercises her statutory powers in carrying out her activities. What it entails is that the commission at various stages of any case invoke some relevant section of the law established her. Such sections included the power to summon, accept, and reject cases, to mention but few.
Negative Summary Findings
  1. It is observed that government assistance to the commission is inadequate.
  2. Though the commission came into existence since 1975, her activities in the country is not well known, it has not improved the quality of public administration in Nigeria and there is also poor public awareness about the commission.
  3. The commission is called the toothless Bull for her inability to enforce her recommendation and the consequences of disobedience.
  4. Lack of power to investigate cases condemning the Nigerian Armed forces to mention but few.
  5. Though the commission Constraints includes lack of security, public awareness, logistic, poor funding, inadequate manpower development, the uncooperative attitude of most institutions, and corrupting overtures by the investigating officers.

5.3 Conclusion

Like many other countries that have adopted the Scandinavian ombudsman idea Nigeria has copied the institution to suit her local peculiarities.

The public Complaints commission, which came into existence in 1975 has really come of ages as much as possible; it has been battling with the task of redressing Administrative injustice in the country.

Certainly, it has recorded a lot of achievement to justify its existence. The federal, state and local governments have not been able to deal with some Administrators who have bluntly refused to accept the recommendations of the commission. Therefore, there is need to add more powers to the commission. The PCC will enhance her efficiency if she can enforce her decisions. Persuasion tactics is alright but where it fails the commission should be able to compel compliance from respondents. Staff motivation and training are essential; it will go a long way to strengthen the commission in redressing numerous administrative wrongs committed by administrators. The commission has the potentials for improving on her performance the urge to resolve more cases should be backed up with the provision of tools with which to get the job done.

Once there is no element of force, for instance the public would not have much regard for it. The power for the commission as earlier said will compel the respondents to accepts and implement her decisions would go a long way to address numerous administrative wrongs and mistakes committed by administrators. If the commission is given adequate support by the government, it would be able to deal with many cases of administrative injustice metered out against poor Nigerians by the over zealous administrators.

5.4 Recommendation

  1. The relationship of the commission and other quasi-Judicial bodies should be interwoven and integral though being independent bodies. It is submitted that if the police is made to execute the processes and orders of the commission as they do for the courts, it would add flesh to the duties of the commission.
  2. The Commission should endeavour to reach out to the three tiers of government, the executive, the legislature and Judiciary in order to rob mind together so that these bodies would be able to appreciate the need for commission to be given additional power to what is needed.
  3. Our country is not as developed as Sweden where ombudsman originated. So in view of our background, the Public Complaints Commission should not use only persuasion to obtain, redress for her numerous Complaints.
  4. Further decentralization of its activities to cover the rural areas.
  5. The power invested on the Commission should be applied extensively.
  6. Aggressive publicity and public enlightenment campaigns and programmes to inform and educate the public on the (PCC) and what it is all about.
  7. Adequate funding which will facilities the provision of other needs of the Commission.
  8. Provision of adequate security including life insurance especially for investigative officers.
  9. Provision of adequate logistics and personnel including vehicle, communication equipment, tape recorder, office equipment etc.
  10. Special Remuneration: Given the nature of their job, staff of the commission especially snives figative officers should be adequately remunerated to prevent them from succumbing to bribing over turns which subverts Justices.
  11. Total empowerment of the commission to the extent of implementing its ruling, prosecute its defaulters investigating injustice in the police and Armed Force and receiving complaints lodged later than 12 months after the related matter etc.
  12. Provision of regular training and retraining opportunities in such forms as part time in service and seminars / workshops / conferences etc.

Apart from the above recommendation, there are other personal attributes which the ombudsman must posses to succeed in his challenging job.

  • Intelligence
  • Integrity / dignity
  • Interactive / Communication ability
  • Cooperate / descent out look
  • Patience / tolerance
  • Confidence
  • Objectivity

Public Complaints Commission As An Instrument For Redressing Administrative Injustice In Nigeria: An Analysis

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