Eniola Akinkuotu and Leke Baiyewu, Abuja
The Senate, on Tuesday, berated the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), for his moves to stop the National Assembly’s investigation into the controversial reinstatement of a former Chairman of the Presidential Task Team on Pension Reforms, Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina.
The upper chamber of the National Assembly said Malami had been “running around the courts” to stop the investigation of Maina, who it said was “surreptitiously” reinstated into the Federal Government’s service after he had been dismissed.
The Senate and the House of Representatives have begun separate probes into the controversial reinstatement of Maina, who was promoted as an Assistant Director in the Ministry of Interior.
This was contained in a statement in Abuja by the Chairman of its Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi.
It stated that 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, was now the one going to court to stop the legislature’s probe.
The statement read, “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?
“Let it be known that the legislature has the power of investigation into all institutions, bodies and individuals, particularly those who access funds that have been appropriated by us.”
It stated that the National Assembly should be put on notice and served all the court processes so that it could enter its own defence.
It added, “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 the ‘Mainagate’. We definitely will not allow those who want the facts buried to prevail.”
In his substantive suit, the AGF had asked the court to determine whether the National Assembly had the right to probe issues relating to the “employment, attendance at work, disengagement, reinstatement and or promotion of a civil servant.”
The AGF contended that the power of investigation, vested in the National Assembly by Section 88 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), was limited.
The court had adjourned until January 15 for the National Assembly to show cause why the AGF’s request should not be granted.
Meanwhile, the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to begin the immediate probe of Malami.
Sagay, while speaking with The PUNCH on the telephone on Tuesday, said Malami’s role in the return of Maina was disappointing.
He said the AGF was either naive or complicit and the Presidency would need to take action.
Sagay said, “As the attorney general, you met a fugitive who is wanted for a very heinous crime of depriving thousands of elderly people of their rights. You don’t, for any reason, go to hold discussions with such a person.
“Your job should be to extradite and try him. He compromised himself by meeting with him. He says he didn’t write any letter regarding the reinstatement of Maina but the letter emanated from his ministry. So, let the President investigate the attorney general.”
The senior advocate, however, agreed with Malami that the Senate was being overzealous by probing his role in the Maina scandal.
Sagay added, “I think the Senate is overzealous in its approach. It investigates everything and in the end, we hardly see anything. I think it is spending too much time setting up sub-committees to investigate everything.