Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Monday declined to grant an order of interim injunction stopping the National Assembly from probing the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami SAN over the reinstatement of Abdulrasheed Maina, into the Federal Civil Service.
Maina was the former Chairman, Presidential Taskforce on Pension Reform.
He was dismissed from the Federal Civil Service Commission in 2013 for absconding from duty following a recommendation by the office of the Head of Service.
However, he was recalled and deployed to the Ministry of Interior under controversial circumstances late last year on the advice of the AGF.
Following public outcry that greeted his reinstatement, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered Maina’s sack and asked Winifred Oyo-Ita, Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, to probe the embarrassing situation.
Consequently, on October 24, 2017, the Senate mandated its committees on public service, internal affairs, anti-corruption, establishment and judiciary to probe the circumstances of Maina’s return to the country and the public service.
It was learnt that the decision of the NASS, particularly the senate to conduct a forensic investigation into the circumstances surrounding the reinstatement of Maina instigated Malami to file a suit against NASS.
One leg of the suit was a motion ex parte he filed seeking to a restrain order against the National Assembly.
But the court refused to grant the order of injunction in a ruling it delivered on Monday after hearing the ex parte application brought by the AGF.
The application was heard in chambers.
Basically, the injunction sought to stop the NASS from probing the reinstatement of Abdulrasheed Maina into the Civil Service.
But rather than grant an order restraining the respondent, Justice Nyako ordered that the NASS be put on notice in respect of the application.
The court fixed January 15 for the NASS to come and show cause why the interim injunction sought by Malami would not be granted.
But in what appears to be a fight back, the AGF has asked the court to determine if the National Assembly has the right to probe issues relating to the “employment, attendance at work, disengagement, reinstatement and or promotion of a civil servant”.
Malami is asking the court to among other things declare that: “the employment, attendance at work, disengagement, reinstatement and or promotion of a civil servant are matters outside the exclusive and concurrent legislative lists contained in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
He wants the court to declare hat the National Assembly cannot legitimately regulate the employment, attendance at work, disengagement, reinstatement and or promotion of a civil servant, which are matters exclusively within the purview of the Federal Civil Service Commission under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria1999 (as amended).
More so, the AGF is seeking a declaration that the National Assembly lacks the legislative competence to investigate the employment, attendance at work, disengagement, reinstatement and or promotion of a civil servant, which are matters exclusively within the purview of the Federal Civil Service Commission under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria1999 (as amended).
“The power of investigation vested the national assembly by section 88 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) is limited and such that can only be exercised within the confines of Section 88 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
“The plaintiff as the chief law officer and minister of justice of the federation is bound to ensure compliance by the Federal Government of Nigeria and or any of its cognate organs/agencies with the express or implied contents of extant Judgements and Orders of competent courts in Nigeria.
“The defendant cannot constitute itself into a quasi-appellate court, tribunal or panel with a view to reviewing any executive action taken in compliance with the adverse judgment in the said Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/65/2013.”
When he appeared before the House of Representatives in November 2017, Malami denied his involvement in Maina’s recall.
On October 25, 2017, INDEPENDENT had reported the role Malami played towards the reinstatement of Maina and how he twisted a judgement delivered by the Federal High Court Abuja, in 2013, to direct the reinstatement of Maina.
The AGF had in a letter dated April 27, 2017 and addressed to the Head of Service of the Federation directed the HoSF 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 Police had been set aside by Justice Bello.
However, Malami was silent on the grievous allegation of embezzlement of over N2 billion pension funds in which Maina was being investigated upon by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission 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 reveal the fact that Justice Bello in the said judgement advised Maina to surrender himself for investigation so as to clear himself of the grievous financial allegation against him.
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 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 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.
Recall that the EFCC had fingered Maina in a charge the Federal Government preferred against a former Head of Service of the Federation, Stephen Orosanye with four others.
The EFCC claimed that the accused committed offences contravening Section 14 (1)(b) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2004.
Most of the offences allegedly committed by the suspects between March and May 2010 were also said to have involved the former Deputy Director, Finance, in the office of the Head of Service, Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina.
The commission said it had made efforts to get Maina to face trial for the alleged N1.9 billion fraud case without success.
EFCC said efforts have been intensified to get him to face trial alongside others.