By Henry Umoru
As Malami, Dambazau appear in camera
ABUJA—THE Senate, yesterday, walked out journalists as Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and his counterpart in the Interior Ministry, Lt. General Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd), appeared before the committee investigating their involvement in the secret reinstatement of former head of Presidential Task Team on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina, into the service service.
Maina had said he would not submit himself to a secret probe by the Senate.
The Senate accused the two ministers of being the masterminds of Maina’s reinstatement and summoned them to appear before its committee.
However, despite the AGF’s protest that the probe be done in the open, the Senate, yesterday, commenced closed-door investigation of the two ministers, and fixed tomorrow for their reappearance.
According to the Senate, it became very imperative to adopt a secret investigation into the matter because the presence of the media and others would hamper the final report.
At the beginning of yesterday’s hearing by the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee of Chairmen and Vice Chairmen of Committees on Establishment, Judiciary, Interior and Anti-Corruption at Senate New Building, Room 231, journalists and others were already in the hall, hoping that it would be opened for coverage.
Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee and Chairman, Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Services, Senator Emmanuel Paulker (PDP, Bayelsa Central); Chairman on Anti- Corruption and Financial Crimes, Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu North); Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters (APC, Niger East), Minister of Justice, Malami, among others came into the conference hall at 12.33pm.
Senate walks out journalists
Before clearing the hall, Senator Paulker said: “The chairmen of four different committees and their vice chairmen in the Senate have been asked to look into the matter, a lot of information circulating in the media regarding this issue.
‘’We do not want to be guided by those information. That is the more reason we said that we equally will not want a situation where, in the course of our meeting, the following day the press comes with a statement that this is what is going on, it may hamper our final report.
“The press are our friends, we cannot do away with the press. We just want to get the true fact regarding the issues as enumerated in the resolution of the Senate. We will be guided by the information that will be given to us by those individuals, especially highly placed Nigerians that are invited to appear before this committee.”
Journalists and other staff were asked to leave the hall at 12.39 and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, was in the hall till 2.25 pm when he came out, went straight to the elevator with his aides without answering questions from waiting journalists.
After he had left, it was now the turn of his counterpart in the Interior Ministry, Lt. General Abdulrahman Dambazau, retd, who came in at 2.39pm, though he had come in earlier, but had to to wait while Malami was still in the hall.
Dambazau finally left the hall at 3.35pm.
Efforts to get Senator Paulker to speak proved abortive but he only managed to say the two ministers will come back on Thursday (today).
It would be recalled that at its maiden meeting last Wednesday, the Paulker-led committee had opted for a secret trial of Malami, Dambazau and others.
At the meeting with the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Abubakar Maigaji, and officials of the Federal Civil Service Commission, the committee stated categorically that journalists would be barred from covering the investigation of both minister.