Though Rabindranath Tagore, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913, wrote, “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy”. I find no joy that I have served my country faithfully but facing persecution.

It is now six years since when I was unlawfully disengaged from service by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan following the blackmail of the Seventh Senate presided over by Senator David Mark. President Jonathan was giving the devil’s alternative by Senator Mark charged to pick between the Senate and Mallam Abdulrasheed Maina, a Deputy Director in the federal civil service who refused to allow stealling of our commonwealth to continue, or the National Assembly will ignore all the bills and requests by the executive. This was one of the several blackmails that will follow. Shortly after Mark’s threat, Senator Kabiru Gaya also went on National Television, BBC, Voice of America, and several National dailies, where he alleged that arising from their pension probe, his committee discovered that Maina had stolen N195BN from various MDAs relating to Pension, even though Maina never worked in any of the MDA’s referenced.

In a carefully choreographed script, a day after the Senate unlawfully declared him wanted, Maina escaped assassination attempt when the vehicle he was riding took in five bullets that shook the vehicle to its foundation just beside the National Assembly opposite the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation. Within 36 hours, Nigeria’s civil service, slower than snail and poison, how they were able to organize and achieve the dismissal of Maina, a deputy director in less than 36hrs, is left to the teeming public to reminisce over.

Unperturbed, Maina approached the Federal High Court Abuja in suit Number FHC/ABJ/CS/65/13, dated 27th April, 2013, under Justice A. Bello, where he got a favorable and unprecedented judgment, a legal classicus, against the Senate and other parties. That judgment nullified all processes that took place during the pendency of the suit (Including the fraudulent Dismissal process) ordered his reinstatement back to service, and gave Maina a perpefual injunction against arrest by any Government Agency. To date, (Five Years after), the order of the Federal High Court has not been respected and is yet to be obeyed by the Institutions Concerned, especially the Office of the Head of Service, and the EFCC most especially. This is most unfortunate in our democracy where adherence to rule of Law is said to be “sacrosanct”.

Arising from the allegation meted out against Maina by the Gaya /Aloysious Pension Probe Committee, Maina was haunted, harassed, by the EFCC, taunted, listed on the Nigerian Immigration No-Fly-list, dismissed from service, listed on Police Interpol list, suffered both physical and psychological trauma. He was tagged a thief, a corrupt civil servant, and called all sorts of names, all as a result of the Senate pronouncement. Nigerians were then, not even ready to listen to Maina’s side of the story because the Senate Committee had the power of the Red Chamber and the press behind them. As a result, Maina again approached the Federal High Court and Challenged the Nigeria Immigration Service, the Nigeria Police and the EFCC where he again got an unprecedented judgement in his favour and damages was awarded to Maina.

It is pertinent to state that truth as a constant was validated on the April 12, 2016 when Senator Gaya, in an interview with The Sun newspaper, recanted about the alleged theft of N195 billion by Mallam Maina. The senator admitted that the N195 billion said to have been stolen, was intact in the Buhari Government’s Single Treasury Account (TSA) at the CBN in 2016. Despite this admission, Gaya and his colleagues did not deem it expedient to apologise to a man they had falsely accused!

But five years later, President Muhammadu Buhari having reviewed the situation tried to correct the anomaly, but the cabal through their agents in the State House, the Office of the Head of Service, the civil society and press, fought against Mr. Maina’s reinstatement despite the illegal disengagement.

What is more instructive is the fact that there is a subsisting court order of the Federal High Court presided over by Justice A. Bello in case Number FHC/ABJ/CS/65/13 of 27th March, 2013, against the Senate and other Parties involved in the saga. The Court Order annulled all processes carried out during the pendency of the case, which includes the unlawful dismissal from service). That court order has not been implemented to date.

Is This Rule of Law?

Our Vice President is a Professor of Law and a pastor, in whose office most of the recommendations were given, but unknown to him, the pressure that beamed to his office was from the same pension cabal in high places who stole our commonwealth.

Again, the authorities set aside the Rule of Law for political reasons leaving the persecution of an honest and patriotic Nigerian to continue.

For a man that recovered over N1.6 trillion in both cash and assets under Jonathan and N1.3 trillion under President Buhari, a feat which was corroborated by the present Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN during the recent Senate probe on the reinstatement of Maina, does not deserve this level of persecution?

The other point the reading public should take note of is that how could the EFCC cook up another accusation on Maina for allegedly misappropriating N2bn, when the same Maina was instrumental to the recovery N1.3trillion under Buhari’s government? A simple maths will show that Maina is entitled to N65 billion being 5% whistle-blower’s fee N65bn. It is expedient that those in the EFCC behind the malicious twist should know that Nigerians are not pliable.

Or is it that somebody or people are afraid of Maina, therefore hiding under the cover of legitimacy by using some of security organisations to harass and keep him away from helping to recover more funds for the country? At a time when the country requires all the support to recover stolen funds in the country instead of seeking foreign loans, it has become convenient for people like Maina to be hunted and allow the government to more borrow funds when we know that we have hidden funds in some Nigerian institutions?.

Will this continued harassment inspire others to serve this country selflessly? The answer to this question is obvious. Well-meaning Nigerians may decide to ignore this situation and keep quite because it’s not happening to one of their own, but the truth will definitely come to haunt the perpetrators, and soon.

As a beneficiary of the reforms by the Maina-led Pension Reform Task Team, I cannot keep quiet.

Chief Emmanuel Okpara, a pensioner who retired from the Nigerian Prisons Service, writes from Enugu state.