In a surprise move, President Muhammadu Buhari has sent Winifred Oyo-Ita, the head of service of the federation, on an indefinite suspension.
He also named Folashade Yemi-Esan as the acting head of service “with immediate effect”.
Willie Bassey, director of information at the office of the secretary to the government of the federation, announced this in a statement on Wednesday.
Oyo-Ita is being probed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over an alleged N3 billion contract scam.
Oyo-Ita had offered to proceed on retirement over the probe but the president turned down her request.
The anti-graft agency had questioned her over allegations that she used front companies to get contracts when she was a permanent secretary before her appointment as head of service by Buhari in 2015.
It was learnt that Oyo-Ita was not the subject of the probe. Kabiru Taminu Turaki, former minster of special duties, was being investigated by the EFCC after he stood as surety to Abdullahi Babalele, son-in-law of Atiku Abubakar, in a case of alleged money laundering.
It was in the process that the EFCC stumbled on a petition against Oyo-Ita, dating to her time as permanent secretary under Turaki.
Until her appointment, Yemi-Esan was the permanent secretary, ministry of petroleum resources.
Aside the appointment of the new head of service, the president approved the extension of the tenure of seven retiring permanent secretaries by a year, with effect from October 1, 2019.
They are: Georgina Ehuriah (interior), Ifeoma Anagbogu (women affairs), Grace Gekpe (information), Umar Bello (agriculture and rural development), Suleiman Lawal (foreign affairs), Comfort Ekaro (water resources) and Olusegun Adekunle), – general services office (Office of the secretary to the government of the federation).
According to the statement by Bassey, this is to ensure stability in the federal civil service and effective delivery on the nine priority areas of the administration as well as the mandates given to the new ministers.