Tobi Soniyi in Lagos
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to act on the report of investigation into how former Chairman of the Presidential Task force on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina, was surreptitiously brought into the country even though he was wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Maina was not only allowed to return to the country but was reinstated and promoted to the rank of a director in the Federal Civil Service.
Following public outcry that greeted Maina return to the civil service, the president ordered that he be dismissed from service. He also directed the Head of Service, Ms Winifred Oyo-Ita, to investigate Mainaâ€™s reinstatement.
On October 23, 2017, the same day the president ordered her to carry out the investigation, the Head of Service submitted her report to the president. However, since then, the president has refused to act on it.
Speaking exclusively with THISDAY, SERAPâ€™s Executive Director, Mr. Adetokunbo Mumuni, said it was in the public interest for the president to make the report public.
He said: â€It is in the interest of transparency, accountability, good governance and rule of law to act on the report.â€
According to him, â€œNigerians have the right to know how a suspect being investigated by EFCC was allowed to join the civil service.
â€œThe president should show leadership by releasing the report of the investigation and acting on the recommendation.â€
Maina was recalled under a plan hatched and executed by some of the presidentâ€™s ministers four years after he was dismissed from service on allegations of gross misconduct and theft of public funds.
He was sacked under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan after he (Maina) went into hiding rather than appeared before the EFCC to response to allegations against him.
Both the Senate and the House of Representatives are investigating the circumstances of Mainaâ€™s recall while the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), has filed a suit at the Federal High Court seeking to stop the probe.
In a swift reaction, the Senate asked the AGF to explain to Nigerians why he had to run to courts to stop the probe by the two chambers of the National Assembly into how Maina was surreptitiously reinstated into the service after being dismissed.
In a statement by Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, the Senate wondered why the AGF would rush to court if he did not have â€˜skeleton in his cupboardâ€™ 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 would be the one going to court to stop the legislatureâ€™s investigation.
He said the Senate would not be intimidated by the AGFâ€™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 and submit its reports on time.
The Senate commended the judiciary by upholding the sanctity of separation of powers and the right to fair hearing when it refused to stop the Mainaâ€™s probe without hearing from the Senate.
Abdullahi said: â€œWe are wondering what the AGF is afraid of. When he appeared before our committee, he was well received and fairly treated. He indeed 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?
â€œLet 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 expressed our commendation to the judiciary for upholding the principles of separation of powers and insisting on fair hearing. We believe that is the reason why the judge refused to grant the prayers of the AGF yesterday and rather insisted that the National Assembly should be put on notice and served all the court processes so that we could enter our own defence.
â€œWhile 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 their reports on time. The Senate believes Nigerians are interested in knowing the how, who , why and where of what is now known as the â€˜Maina Gateâ€™. We definitely will not allow those who want the facts buried to prevail,â€ Abdullahi stated.