The purported indictment of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, by the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee over the alleged reinstatement of Abdulrasheed Maina has been described as “frivolous and inoperative”.
The House panel, which investigated the circumstances surrounding how Maina who was dismissed from service over pension fraud was promoted and reinstated into the service, had alleged that the Attorney General of the Federation was the “architect” of the crisis.
The panel’s report noted that Maina’s reinstatement was “fraudulently masterminded” and that Malami “pressurised all that mattered” to force Maina back into the service.
“The Attorney General knew that Maina is a fugitive, yet he met him in Dubai. Maina’s reinstatement didn’t follow due process and it was fraudulently masterminded,” the committee report said.
But in their reaction to the report, some officials of the Ministry of Justice who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity faulted the house ad-hoc committee for reportedly going beyond its oversight function to usurping the function of the judiciary which is the only competent authority to make criminal indictment.
A senior counsel in the ministry said, “Section 158 of the constitution on the basis of which the committee placed reliance was equally observed by the committee in breach regarding to the fact that the section clearly vests establishment matters relating to appointments, removal and discipline of public Servants exclusively in the federal civil service commission.
“Looking into the matter by the National Assembly is an exercise in frivolity and lacking in substance upon which it could stand”.
Continuing, he said, For me two things are apparent. One is their allegation of “fraudulent reinstatement”. When fraud, which is criminal conduct is in contention the oversight function of a National Assembly naturally gives way for the invocation of judicial function. Only a court can determine and pronounce a conduct criminal and not a legislature.
“Two, when a matter is submitted to judicial determination by parties, none of the parties can pre-empt the right for judicial determination of the court by way of foisting on it a situation of helplessness. The determination of the National Assembly is over and above persuasive and never binding. It is frivolous and inoperative.”
Maina, former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), was dismissed in 2013 and subsequently declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) when he failed to appear for questioning.
Following media reports about his secret reinstatement, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered his immediate sack.
He also directed the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita, to submit a report on how Maina was recalled into the service.
The House, in October, resolved to probe the matter and invited all government officials relevant to the matter, including Malami who denied any knowledge about Maina’s reinstatement.