The Senate has mandated President Muhammadu Buhari to act swiftly and bring those behind the reinstatement of the former chairman of Presidential Task Team on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina, to book.
The Senate specifically called out the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami and the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau.
They called for their immediate sack and prosecution. Senators who took their turns to condemn the recall of Maina, said President Buhari’s government had been hijacked by powerful forces who did not want the All Progressives Congress-led government to succeed.
Coming under Order 42 and 52, Isah Hamman Misau, wondered why a government who claimed to be fighting corruption, would recall a fugitive who was declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Nigeria Police Force.
Misau said, “Right from day before yesterday, you will see somebody who has been declared wanted by the EFCC. We read how the man who was declared wanted and was said to be abroad, came back to Nigeria miraculously.
“Going by the newspaper publications, somebody wanted by the EFCC, left the country for so many years. He was dismissed from the service. He was out for a long time, but smuggled into the service. He left the country as an assistant director. Today, he is a director.
“We even heard that he goes about with police escort. I wonder how a government that claims to be fighting corruption will be involved in a matter like this. This is a big embarrassment for this country. The people around the President are not helping matters. It appears that the President is the only one talking about corruption. Other people around him are protecting corrupt people.
“The AGF was mentioned and other people were mentioned. We investigated this case in the 7th Assembly. I am calling on the Senate to investigate this case again.”
Backing Misau’s claims, Chief Whip of the Senate, Olusola Adeyeye, called on APC members, to rescue the country from those he described as agents of destabilisation, working to make President Buhari fail.
“I remember what happened then. It got to a point when the former President of the Senate, David Mark told the former President Goodluck Jonathan to chose between Abdulrasheed Maina and loyalty to the country. It got so bad that Maina had over 30 police officers attached to him.
“It got so bad that he was always on the front roll whenever the former President travelled. At the some point, we thought that he was being protected. I remember one of us was blackmailed and called names. He was accused of taking billions as bribes. Today, that lawmaker was cleared and he is here.
“Some principalities in power then ferried him to neighbouring countries. There is a procedure when it comes to promotion in the civil service. This is an insult on the part of civil servants who have worked so hard.
“As a member of APC, it is a sad moment. We cannot say that we want to fight corruption and have this approach. Jesus Christ said it is difficult for a rich man to pass through the eyes of a needle.
“This saddens me and I am sure it saddens all of us. I am glad that following the outrage from the public, the President acted swiftly. We read in the papers that the rules of the civil service were bypassed.
“It appears there are people in this government who want the President to fail. Every patriot and member of APC in this house must stand out and ensure that the President does not fail.
“Papers have reported that two Ministers were involved. Those Ministers must be brought to justice. The President must ensure that those Ministers are sacked. Corruption is not only about stealing money. Incompetence too is another form of corruption.
“I hope that this Senate will not forget its past resolutions on Maina. On it, we still stand. He must be made to stand and face the law. He is not above the law. Steven Oronsaye was accused. He did not leave the country. He stayed back and cleared his name. Maina must do same”, Adeyeye said.
Kabiru Marafa, in his submission, called for a full-blown investigation into circumstances which led to Maina’s reinstatement. He warned that the abuse of due process must not go unchallenged.
He said, “I want to appreciate the person who brought this motion by exposing some dubious people in government. No family can boast of having 100 per cent good people. APC is not an exception. We cannot attribute everything to the President. He should be commended for rising to the occasion.
“Reinstating Maina is a crime against Nigerians. We should approve a full blown investigation into what happened. We must not allow this thing to go unnoticed.”
Attai Idoko from Kogi State, accused the AGF of using his office to bypass due processes. He recalled how the AGF in the past, moved against lawmakers in an attempt to frustrate them out of office.
“We are looking at the symptoms; we are not looking at the cause. Maina is too small to go back to office. Somebody brought him back to the office. Maina is too small. He is not the issue. We should look at those who returned Maina.
“As we were told, the person who approved this thing is the AGF. The simplest thing the President could do was to terminate the appointment of Maina. That is not the issue. The AGF brought him back. The AGF has a history of doing things like this. The President should tell us what he will do to the AGF,” he said.
Tayo Alaosoadura from Ondo State, disagreed with his colleagues. He argued that since President Buhari had already set up a committee to investigate the issue, it would be irrelevant for the Senate to set up another panel to look at the same matter.
“The President has set up a committee to investigate. We should not call names of people who have not been indicted. We should not duplicate. If the executive has set up a committee, we should not do the same thing. We must not set up committees every time,” he argued.
Dino Melaye who took sides with his colleagues, described it as pathetic. He said since President Buhari was yet to implement the recommendations of some reports submitted to him, the Senate should go ahead and investigate the matter.
Melaye said, “It is pathetic. We should continue in sin and ask grace to abound? The AGF time after time has abused his office. Maina did not get himself back. We should talk about the integrity of the AGF and his office. If the number one law officer is breaking the law, where is the hope?
“The AGF started with the forgery case against Saraki and Ekweremadu. Something happened we have not noticed. Two public officers had issues and the AGF chose to support the Inspector-General of Police against Senator Isah Hamman Misau. Today, it is Senator Isah versus the Federal Government.
“Tomorrow, if I commit any offence against the friend to the AGF, I will be arraigned. We should not encourage the setting up of investigative committees. The President is surrounded by worms who are bent on destroying the country.
“There are so many committees that have been set up by the President and the resolutions of those reports may not be implemented until after rapture. Enough is enough. We cannot have this forever. This is wrong. The Senate needs to do something.
“We must recommend to the President that the AGF has erred in discharging the affairs of his office. If we do not check it, the AGF will plunge us into trouble.”
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, thereafter, constituted an adhoc committee to be chaired by the committee chairman on Public Service and Establishment, Emmanuel Paulker.
The committee is to investigate the circumstances surrounding the return of Maina to the country and how he returned to the civil service as a director.
Chairmen and deputies of the three other committees, namely, Anti-Corruption, Judiciary, and Interior, are to join the adhoc panel to investigate the issue.
“We are all very disturbed. I want the committee to work hard and bring this matter back to us. We need to investigate the bridge in our security and how the anti-corruption war is going”, Saraki said, while charging the committee.
No time frame was given, within which the committee should conclude its work and turn in its report.
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