…as lawyer sues Buhari, seeks AGF’s sack
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – More details have emerged on how the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, twisted a 2013 high court judgment to ensure that former Chairman, Pension Reform Task Team, Mr. Abdul Rashid Maina, was recalled and promoted by the Federal Civil Service Commission, FCSC.
Malami had in a letter with Ref. No. HAGF/FCSC/2017/Vol. 1/3, directed the FCSC to give consequential effect to a judgment he said voided the process that led to Maina’s dismissal from service.
On the strenght of the letter, the FCSC, at the end of a meeting it held on June 14, 2017, requested the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, OHCSF, vide a letter marked FC.4029/82/Vol. III/160, and dated June 21, to advise the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior to consider the AGF’s letter and make appropriate recommendations regarding Maina’s case.
In line with the directive, the Ministry of Interior, at its Senior Staff Committee meeting held on June 22, placed reliance on the AGF’s letter and recommended that Maina be reinstated into the Service as Deputy Director on Salary Grade Level 16.
Consequently, the FCSC, on August 16, approved the reinstatement of Maina with effect from February 21, 2013 (being the date he was earlier dismissed from Service
The FCSC further okayed Maina to sit for the next promotion examination to the post of Director (Administration) with Salary Grade Level 17.
Meanwhile, contrary to claim by the AGF that Maina was given clean-bill-of-health by the a court of competent jurisdiction, a copy of the judgment obtained by Vanguard on Wednesday, revealed that the court merely quashed a warrant of arrest that was issued against the former pension boss by the Nigerian Senate.
The judgment which was delivered on March 27, 2013, by Justice Adamu Bello of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court (now retired), only faulted the process that led to the issuance of the warrant of arrest against Maina.
The court however did not clear Maina of allegation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, that he embezzled pension fund to the tune of N2billion.
The court, in its judgment, equally did not insulate Maina from EFCC’s investigations.
Rather, Justice Bello advised Maina to surrender himself to the authorities investigating the alleged N2 billion fraud.
The court said there was no evidence that the investigation Senate commenced against Maina was “one validly commenced in accordance with the provisions of Section 88(1) of the 1999 constitution”.
It held that Senate investigative committee failed to annex vital documents to show that the ex-pension boss was accorded fair treatment before the warrant of arrest was issued against him.
Exerpts from the judgment read: “The implication of the failure to produce and annex these vital documents to the counter affidavit of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th and 9th respondents is that there is no evidence before me to show that the investigation commence by the said respondents is one validly commenced in accordance with the provisions of Section 88(1) of the 1999 constitution.
“If it has not been validly commenced in accordance with the Constitution, it follows that the summons or invitation to the Applicant (Maina) to appear before the Committee would not have been validly issued and ipso facto, the warrant of arrest was not validly issued.
“In the circumstances therefore, I am bound to set aside the warrant of arrest issued by the 2nd respondent which threatens the right of the applicant to his personal liberty.
“Consequently, the warrant of arrest issued by the 2nd respondent for the arrest of the applicant is set aside.
“I grant relief-1 contained in the statement. I also grant an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents jointly and/or severally by themselves and or their agent, privies, servants, however so called from arresting the applicant on account of the warrant of arrest which has been set aside.
“However, beyond these two reliefs, given all the facts available to the court, the applicant is not entitled to any other relief.
“My decision is based purely on the failure of the respondents to annex the vital documents I mentioned, otherwise, the applicant would not have any case at all.
“The decision should not therefore send a wrong signal to the public that the senate does not have the power to cause an investigation within the purview of the powers conferred on it by Sections 88 and 89 of the Constitution with respect to the matters enumerated therein.
“It has such powers and when properly exercised, it can summon any person in Nigeria to give evidence and can also compel the attendance of any such person.
“Let me end the judgment by advising the applicant to submit himself voluntarily to the investigation by the senate in order to show that he respects constituted authority.
“It is the least expected of him as a public officers and as a citizen of Nigeria”, Justice Bello held.
Cited as respondents in the fundamental right enforcement suit Maina lodged before the court in 2013 to quash the arrest warrant against him, were, the Senate, Senate President, Clerk of the Senate, Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service, Senate Committee on State and Local Government Administration, Inspector General of Police, Attorney General of the Federation, Senator Alloysius Etok and Senator Kabiru Gaya.
Meanwhile, in his letter requesting that Maina be recalled to Service, the AGF, maintained that the “legal import” of the high court judgment was that the ex-pension boss had no case to answer.
The AGF’s controversial letter with Ref. No. HAGF/FCSC/2017/Vol. 1/3, addressed to the FCSC and entitled “Re: Demand for update on the re-instatement of Mr. Abdulrasheed Abdulahi Maina as Director in the Federal Civil Service, a copy of which was sighted by Vanguard on Wednesday, read:
“Attn: Deaconess J. O. Ayo, OON.
”Your letter on the above captioned subject matter refrenced FCSC/CHMN/OC/17/Vol. XIV/209 dated 3rd March 2017 and the letters copied to the Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation by the office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation on the same subject matter respectively referenced HCSF/LU/COR/FCSC/749/III/84 dated 27th March 2017 and 20 April 2017 refer (copied attached).
“You would recall that I wrote your office vide a letter refrenced HAGF/FCSC/2017/Vol. 1/2 dated 21 February 2017 wherein I drew your attention to the legal import of the judgment delivered by his lordship honourable Justice A. Bello of the Federal High Court, Abuja Judicial Division on Wednesday the 27th day of March, 2013 in suit No FHC/Abj/CS/65/13 (Abdulrasheed Maina vs the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria & 8 Ors), a suit which my office represented the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“In my said letter, I directed your office to give a consequential effect to the said judgment which voided the warrant of arrest issued by the Police against Dr. Abdulrasheed A. Maina, which warrant of arrest formed the basis for the query referenced MI/30040/1/1 dated the 15th day of Febraury, 2013 and his eventual dismissal from the service of the Federal Government of Nigeria on the 5th day of March 2013.
“Having reviewed all the correspondence vis-a-vis the court judgment. I hereby write to reiterate my earlier directive and further direct that you give a consequential effect to the aforesaid judgment by taking necessary steps to ensure immediate reinstatement of Dr. Maina to his duty post as a Director in the Federal Civil Service to enable him continue his service to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“Please accept, Honourable Chairman, the assurances of my best regards always”.
The letter was copied to the Head of Service of the federation and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior.
Meantime, an Abuja based lawyer, Chief Nkereuwem Akpan, yesterday, dragged President Muhammadu Buhari before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja for his continued retention of Malami as the AGF.
The plaintiff, in an Originating Summons marked FHC/ABJ/CS/626/2017, and cited the AGF and President Buhari as 1st and 2nd Defendants, respectively.
Akpan anchored his suit on the ground that the AGF, going by a judgement he said was delivered by Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the court, had been adjudged to have violated the constitution, grossly abused his oath of office and also flagrantly violated the extant and sacrosanct provisions of Section 174(3) of the 1999 Constitution.
The plaintiff among others is praying the court to declare that it is unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional for the AGF and the Chief Law Officer despite that he has been adjudged by a court of competent jurisdiction to have violated the constitution, abused his oath of office and also flagrantly violated the extant and sacrosanct provisions of Sections 150 and 174(3) of the 1999 Constitution.