• Directs committee to expedite probe
Tobi Soniyi in Lagos and Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The Senate has asked the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), to explain to Nigerians why he has been running around the courts seeking to stop the probe by the two chambers of the National Assembly into how Mr. Abdulrashid Maina, an Assistant Director in the Ministry of Interior, was surreptitiously reinstated into the civil service after being dismissed.
In a statement by Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, Chairman of the Senate Committee, Media and Public Affairs, the Senate wondered why the AGF rushed to the court if he did not have a “skeleton in his cupboard” with regards to the reinstatement of Maina into the Federal Civil Service.
Abdullahi said the lawmakers were surprised that the AGF, who had utilised the ample opportunity given to him by both chambers of the National Assembly to state his case on the Maina issue, was the one who headed to court to stop the legislature’s investigation.
He said the Senate would not be intimidated by the AGF’s resort to using the judiciary to stop the lawmakers from carrying out their constitutional duty.
In this wise, Abdullahi said the Senate had further directed the committee investigating the Maina issue to expedite action on it and submit its reports on time.
The Senate and Nigerians, he said, were interested in how Maina, a fugitive of the law, was surreptitiously brought into the country and reabsorbed into the civil service, adding that they would therefore not allow those who want the case buried to prevail.
The Senate commended the judiciary for upholding the sanctity of separation of powers and the right to a fair hearing when it refused to stop the Maina probe without hearing from the Senate.
Abdullahi said: “We are wondering what the AGF is afraid of. When he appeared before our committee, he was well received and fairly treated. He expressed his happiness with the protection given to him by the committee handling the Maina case.
“Why then is it very important and urgent for him to stop the investigative hearing? What is the AGF trying to hide?
“Let it be known that the legislature has the power of investigation on all institutions, bodies and individuals, particularly those who access funds that have been appropriated by us.
“We, however, express our commendation to the judiciary for upholding the principles of separation of powers and insisting on a fair hearing.
“We believe that is the reason the judge refused to grant the prayers of the AGF yesterday (Monday) and insisted that the National Assembly should be put on notice and served all the court processes so that we could enter our own defence.
“While we respect the position of the court and would respond accordingly, the Senate has further directed the committee investigating the Maina issue to expedite action and submit its report on time.
“The Senate believes Nigerians are interested in knowing the how, who, why and where of what is now known as ‘Maina Gate’. We definitely will not allow those who want the facts buried to prevail.”
After denying his involvement in the scandal, Malami on Monday rushed to a Federal High Court in Abuja with an application to stop the legislature’s probe of the matter.
However, the trial judge, Justice Binta Murtala Nyako, after hearing the application in chambers rejected it.
She consequently ordered the AGF to put the respondents on notice to enable them to come and show cause why the application should not be granted.
The court later fixed January 15 for a hearing of the motion on notice.