Fresh details have emerged of how the embattled former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina allegedly “arranged” for his reinstatement and subsequent withdrawal of the court case he instituted against the Federal Government, with influential individuals in the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN).
Controversy has trailed the alleged role of the office of the AGF, the Minister for Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazzau, the chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu; the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC), Oluremi Joseph Akande; and the Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita in Maina’s reinstatement and promotion into the Federal Civil Service, which was approved on August 16 and completed in October with a rank of Director Grade Level 17 and backdated to February 21, 2013.
However, it has emerged that much of the work, including the recommendation to get President Muhammadu Buhari to use his “presidential directive” to effect Maina’s reinstatement was done in the office of the AGF. The office had initiated the move for Maina’s recall after he was reported to have made some visits and tendered the court cases he had instituted challenging his disengagement from the civil service.
The presentation by the dramatis personae in the saga including the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Mamman Daura; the Commandant of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammed Babandede at Thursday’s sitting of the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee investigating the disappearance, reappearance, reinstatement and promotion of Maina, including admission by the AGF on how he arrived at the opinion he proffered for his reinstatement, has further exposed the irregularity in the process.
The AGF tendered copies of the memo generated from his office, which played a pivotal part in Maina’s reinstatement and promised that he has set up an internal probe into how one of his Special Assistants arrived at the memo to convince him “as to how the effect of judgment provided by Maina could have a co-essential effect on reinstatement which was not developed and presented.”
Sources said Maina had on such visits to the ministry between February and May, 2017, which was a follow-up of his earlier meeting with the AGF outside the country, presented the various suits he initiated and the opinion of his lawyer, Mahmud Magaji (SAN) that his query and dismissal for abscondment despite the pendency and eventual order voiding the warrant by Justice Adamu Bello in suit No: FHC/CV/65/2013 before an Abuja Federal High Court, was subjudice and amounted to contempt of court.
His lawyer suggested that the action negated the principle that once a matter has been placed within the domain of the court, no action shall or ought to be taken by any party thereto to debase or in any way undermine the outcome of the court’s intervention.
Maina thus contended that the action sacking him from the Federal Civil Service was taken without given him fair hearing more so as he was forced into hiding because of the warrant of arrest issued by the Senate Committee on Establishment to the Inspector General of Police and an attempt on his life by some unknown assailants traceable to persons who felt threatened by “the fraud of monumental proportion” he discovered in the country’s pension system.
Maina further explained to the aides of the AGF that he also initiated suit no: NICN/ABJ/68/2013 before the Industrial Court in Abuja challenging the action of the Head of Service of the Federation and Ministry of Interior in the query dated February 15, 2013 which cited him for serious misconduct offending Public Service Rules 030301 to 0303014 for his abscondment from duty following a warrant of arrest by the police and demanding the sum of N2.5 billion in damages.
He explained that Justice Adamu Bello of the Federal High Court in Abuja on March 27, 2013 held that the warrant of arrest was a nullity and that the procedure adopted by the Senate was not valid based on the powers of the National Assembly in sections 88 and 89 of the Constitution because he was not given fair hearing.
After Maina’s presentations, on April 27, 2017 a legal assistant to Malami, produced the said memo detailing why the AGF acting within his powers in Section 174 of the Constitution, should re-emphasize his advice to the FCSC to give consequential effect to the judgment of the Federal High Court. The aide suggested also that the AGF can “weight advisory to the president to issue a Presidential Directive to the FCSC to reinstate Maina to his normal position and full rights and privileges.”
Earlier, the AGF had in a letter with reference no: HAGF/FCSC/2017/Vol.1/2 dated February 21, 2017 where he gave an interpretation that the judgment of the Federal High Court in 2013 voided the warrant of arrest “issued by the police against Dr Abdulrasheed 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.”
In the memo titled: ‘Complaint of illegal dismissal and appeal for reinstatement of Dr Abdulrasheed Maina to his office, demand for update of the reinstatement of Dr Abdulrasheed Maina as Director in the Federal Civil Service’, the said SA also submitted that recalling Maina would be in public interest because it would give hope to other civil servants who have similar experience like Maina.
He said Maina has a lot of experience in pension administration that can be tapped, adding that he can be used as prosecution witness for the EFCC and ICPC in the pending cases of pension scam in various courts.
“That as head when the fraud of monumental proportion was discovered and a huge sum of stolen funds reportedly recovered under his watch and given the fact he must have reported some government officials to agencies like EFCC and ICPC and strike a deal to act as prosecution witness in most of the cases under investigation,” the SA wrote in the memo.
Satisfied the process was in place, Maina agreed to withdraw the suit before the National Industrial Court in Abuja where he had demanded “an order quashing the entire steps taken by the Head of Service of the Federation on the dismissal of the claimant.”
Based on the application by Maina’s lawyers formally withdrawing the suit, Justice Olufunke Anowe on November 8 struck it out from the court’s records.
However, sources alleged many “issues” played a major role in the official advice and the purported letter from the office of the AGF to the FCSC for Maina’s reinstatement. Thus, the AGF at the House hearing on Thursday promised that he had directed the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry to probe the memo and the letter to the FCSC to unravel what really transpired and he would report back to the House.
“When this controversy arose, I instructed the Permanent Secretary taken into consideration my earlier K.I.V. of a letter dated 5th October, that they should initiate process to now unravel what truly transpired if indeed those letters have actually emanated from the Federal Ministry of Justice and what indeed transpired. I can assure you I can ask them to expedite action for that,” he said.