Malami Twisted Court Judgment To Back Maina’s Reinstatement
Facts emerged on Wednesday of how Abubakar Malami (SAN), Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, manipulated a judgment delivered by a Federal High Court in Abuja in 2013, based on which he directed the reinstatement of the former Chairman, Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, into the Federal Civil Service.
Malami had said on Tuesday that he acted in “public interest and will therefore not do anything that deviates from the law or breaches public interest”.
Maina had dragged the Senate, Senate President and Clerk of the Senate, the Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service to court challenging the warrant of arrest issued against him by the Senate.
Other respondents in the suit were the Senate Committee on State and Local Government Administration, the Inspector General of Police, and the Attorney General of the Federation.
Maina had also joined as respondents Aloysius Etok, Chairman, Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service, and Kabiru Gaya, Chairman, Senate Committee on State and Local Government Administration of the 7th Senate.
Maina’s name had been mentioned in a charge the Federal Government preferred against a former Head of Service of the Federation, Stephen Orosanye, with four others.
Referencing the charge, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had brought a criminal charge against Maina, alleging he committed offences contravening Section 14 (1)(b) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2004.
Most of the offences allegedly committed by Orosanye between March and May 2010 were also said to have involved the former Deputy Director, Finance, in the office of the Head of Service.
The commission said it had made efforts to get Maina alongside others to face trial for the alleged N1.9 billion fraud case without success.
A copy of the said judgment based on which Malami caused the reinstatement of Maina was obtained by INDEPENDENT.
judgment was in respect of a fundamental rights enforcement suit instituted by Maina, and marked FHC/ABJ/CS/65/13.
In the said judgment, Justice Adamu Bello had on March 27, 2013 set aside a warrant of arrest issued by the Senate against the former Chairman of Pension Reform Task Team.
Out of 12 reliefs sought by Maina, the court only granted relief one by setting aside the warrant of arrest.
The AGF had in a letter dated April 27, 2017 and addressed to the Head of Service of the Federation (HoSF) directed the HoSF’s office to reinstate Maina.
In the said letter, Malami had twice directed the reinstatement of Maina as director in the Federal Civil Service on the ground that the warrant of arrest issued against him by the Senate had been set aside by Justice Bello.
However, Malami was silent on the grievous allegation of embezzlement of over N2 billion pension funds for which Maina was being investigated by the EFCC.
Malami’s letter also failed to address the fact that Maina was declared wanted by the anti-graft agency in respect of the alleged pension scam.
Besides, Malami’s letter failed to disclose the fact that Justice Bello in the said judgment advised Maina to surrender himself for investigation so as to clear himself of the grievous financial allegation against him.
Justice Bello had warned that “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.”
However, given all the facts available to the court, Justice Bello held that Maina was not entitled to any other relief.
The court based its decision “purely on the failure of the respondents to annex the vital documents mentioned, otherwise, the applicant would not have any case at all.”
Bello added, “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 officer and as a citizen of Nigeria”.
In the judgment, the court held that the implication of the failure to produce and annex vital documents to the counter affidavit of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th and 9th respondents was that there was no evidence before the court to show that the investigation commenced by the said respondents was 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 agents, privies, servants, however so called from arresting the applicant on account of the warrant of arrest which has been set aside.”
Meanwhile, the said letter wherein Malami directed the reinstatement of Maina reads thus: Ref. HAGF/FCSC/2017/Vol. 1/3, addressed to the Federal Civil Service Commission, reads:
”Attn: Deaconess J. O. Ayo, OON.
“Re: Demand for update on the reinstatement of Mr. Abdulrasheed Abdulahi Maina as Director in the Federal Civil Service.
”Your letter on the above captioned subject matter referenced 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 referenced 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 v. the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria & 8 Ors), a suit in 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 February, 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.”
Malami’s letter was copied to the Head of Service of the Federation and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior.
Maina was sacked from the civil service in 2013 over corruption.
He was accused of being involved in pension fraud running into over N100 billion.
He was believed to have subsequently fled the country to escape arrest.
In 2015, he was placed on the wanted list of International Police (INTERPOL) by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Four years later, he was said to have been secretly reinstated into the civil service, with promotion, despite being wanted for alleged corruption.
Lawyer Asks Court To Sack Malami Over Abuse Of Office
Meanwhile, Nkereuwem Akpan, an Abuja based legal practitioner, has filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Abuja, asking President Muhammadu Buhari to sack Abubakar Malami.
The originating summons filed by Akpan was marked FHC/ABJ/CS/626/2017.
The AGF and the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are 1st and 2nd defendants, respectively.
The plaintiff, among others, asked the court to determine whether he is entitled under the extant and sacrosanct provisions of Section 1(3), 36, 34, 37, 41, 46, 251(1)(d)(p)(g)(r); 252 of the 1999 constitution and Order II Rule 2 of the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009 (made pursuant to S 46(1) 1999 constitution) to bring the action vide originating summons seeking the determination of the questions and reliefs set out herein?
He also prayed the court to decide whether the final judgement of the Federal High Court, Abuja, in suit number FHC/ABJ/CA/968/2011 (Re: Chief Nkereuwem Udofia Akpan V Attorney General of the Federation) delivered on October 25, 2016 by Justice G.O Kolawole is enforceable from the date it was delivered along with the accruing rights.
The plaintiff also asked the court to determine whether the defendant is entitled to retain the position of the Minister of Justice and ‘Chief Law Officer’ of the Federation despite the fact that he (defendant) has been adjudged by a court of competent jurisdiction to have grossly abused his oath of office and also flagrantly violated the extant and sacrosanct provisions of Section 174(3) of the 1999 constitution.
Furthermore, the plaintiff is praying for a declaration of the court that it is unlawful for the president to continue to retain the AGF in office despite the fact 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.
The trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, has adjourned further hearing in the matter to November 23.
Akpan premised his request on the ground that the AGF going by the judgement of Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High 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.
Maina, ‘Monster’ Left Behind To Frustrate Buhari’s Anti-Graft Fight – Presidency
A presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, has described Abdulrasheed Maina as “one of the monsters” and mess left behind by the previous administration to frustrate the ongoing fight against corruption by the current government.
Shehu, who is the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, stated this in a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday.
He, therefore, maintained that Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had no moral right to level any accusations against the President Buhari administration in respect of Maina.
He emphasised that Maina was “one of the monsters created by the former PDP government, and which are still rearing their ugly heads long after the party was soundly defeated in the 2015 elections.
“Over and over again, the President Buhari government has pointed out that the administration’s greatest problem is the mess left behind by the previous government. Maina is just one more example.”
Shehu noted that Maina was not the only member of the former government involved in the multibillion naira pensions scandal, but a man warmly ensconced in the bosom of power.
He said: “Top officials in the PDP government, from sectoral heads, to those charged with responsibility for law and order received some of these billions of naira from Maina.
“We have all the transaction records and these are matters that the EFCC has been pursuing to ensure that they all have their day in court.”
The SSA hinted that some influential officials loyal to the previous government might have been the invisible hand in the latest scandal that saw the return of Maina to the public service, despite being on the EFCC’s wanted list.
He, however, assured Nigerians that President Buhari was determined to get to the bottom of the matter of the impunity that led to Maina’s reinstatement.
“Everything will be uncovered in due course.
“This just goes to show us the scale of corruption that this government is fighting. And, as we can all see, corruption keeps fighting back viciously,” he added.
The PDP, on Monday, had called for immediate arrest and prosecution of Abdulrasheed Maina, a former Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, wanted for alleged fraud.
The party made the call in a statement by National Publicity Secretary of its National Caretaker Committee, Dayo Adeyeye.
The party called for the arrest and prosecution of those who aided the return of Maina to the country after his disappearance for several years, and his restoration to his duty post with added promotion.