By Ayo Kehinde
The Senate has asked the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), 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 service after being dismissed.
In a statement by Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, the Senate said it was 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 is now the one going to court to stop the legislature’s investigation.
In his bid to stop the ongoing probe by the NASS, of the controversial reinstatement of former Chairman of the Presidential Pension Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina into the civil service, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami (SAN), has approached Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja, with a suit.
But Justice Binta Nyako on Monday declined to grant an ex-parte motion requested by Malami to stop the NASS probe and instead adjourned the suit to January 15 for possible hearing.
The AGF is arguing that 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 could be exercised within the confines of Section 88 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
He is insisting that, as the nation’s Chief Law Officer and Attorney General of the Federation the law stops at his table, contending that the National Assembly could not 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 suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/65/2013.
Malami also wants the court to declare 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).
Yet the same Malami who is fretting about the powers of the NASS to probe the case shoots himself in the foot by challenging the arrest warrant issued against Maina by an Abuja court at the instance of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) following the suit filed before the Federal High Court in Kaduna by Maina, .
Malami, in his counter affidavit to the suit, urged the court to dismiss it and allow the EFCC, the government agency that got the arrest warrant, to proceed with Maina’s arrest and prosecution.
“We 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?” ask Senator Abdullah
“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 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.
“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 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 ‘Maina Gate’. We definitely will not allow those who want the facts buried to prevail”, Abdullahi stated.