Senator Aloysius Etok
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Establishment, Senator Aloysius Etok, Thursday said the Senate would not be distracted from concluding its investigation into the fraud perpetrated in Pension Office by the suit filed in an Abuja High Court on Wednesday by the Chairman of Police Pension Reform Team, Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina, against his arrest.
Maina, who was declared wanted by the Nigeria Police last week, dragged the Senate to court over an allegation that Committee on Establishment probing embezzlement of pension money under his leadership did not give him a fair hearing before declaring him wanted.
Maina who is seeking N1.5 billion as damages from the Senate, also asked the court to set aside the warrant of arrest issued against him.
While reacting to the suit yesterday, Etok said in a democratic setting, anyone who has grievances is free to approach the court to seek a redress. However, the senator said the suit would not halt the commitment of the Senate to get to the root of investigation into the scam and simultaneously bring erring persons to book.
Etok, who said the Senate would appear in court if properly served with summons, added that there was an outer clause in the constitution which bars the court from interfering in legislative activities.
“For now, every person is entitled to his right to seek a redress in the court. If you feel that your right is injured, you have the right to go to court for remedy. If Maina has gone to court, he has his own reason to go to court. I’m also sure that the Senate as an institution has its own right of proceedings which cannot be barred by court processes.
“But that will not stop us from getting to the conclusion of the matter. There is an outer clause in the constitution to that effect. We will appear in court but that will not stop our legislative processes,” Etok explained.
Meanwhile, the upper legislative house said it was unfortunate that Maina is portraying himself to be an exceptional person who is above the law.
Addressing journalists Thursday co-Chairman of the Senate Joint Committee on Public Service and Establishment and State and Local Government Administration investigating the alleged pension fraud, Senator Kabiru Gaya, remarked that Maina was overreaching himself.
Gaya said: “We are really worried that an individual can be proving to be above the law of the land. We asked the police to arrest Maina for refusing to appear before us on several occasions. The Senate president, who is the number three citizen in this country issued a warrant of arrest and we learnt that the police declared him wanted.
“But the following day, Maina addressed a press conference that he was around and that the police could arrest him if they wanted to do so.
“But up till now, we have not heard of his arrest. How can an ordinary assistant director be so powerful that when we asked the permanent secretary to re-assign him to another position, he (the permanent secretary) said he could not assign him to another position unless he was cleared from the above? Where is the above?
“When an ordinary assistant director can have the gut to sue the Senate President, the entire Senate and even the Inspector-General of Police and the Attorney-General of the Federation. That is ridiculing the government,” Gaya said.