By Samuel Adesanya.
A clearer picture of Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami’s role in the reinstatement of fugitive civil servant Abdulrasheed Maina emerged yesterday.
The minister admitted before a Senate ad hoc panel probing Maina’s reinstatement into the civil service and promotion to acting director that he met with Maina in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) last year.
He also said he wrote letters to the Federal Civil Service Commission (FRSC) on the sacked chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team.
Maina was in 2015 accused of over N2billion pension fraud and declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The EFCC enlisted the International Police (INTERPOL) to trace Maina.
But he dramatically showed up in the country and was last month reinstated as acting director in the Ministry of Interior.
An embarrassed President Muhammadu Buhari ordered Maina’s immediate sack and a probe of how he was brought back. The EFCC stepped up its investigation. But Maina has not been seen since then.
The Senate panel is conducting its probe in camera with a promise to brief reporters at the end of its investigation.
But a source told The Nation last night that Malami, Interior Minister Abdulrahman Danbazau and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior appeared before the committee.
The Interior minister and the permanent secretary insisted that they played no role in Maina’s recall that the attorney general admitted writing three letters to the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) on Maina. But he said he did not bring him back.
Senators reportedly asked the minister questions ranging from the authenticity of the correspondence between him and the FCSC, the constitutionality of his alleged directives to the commission and the extent of his involvement in the reinstatement of the controversial civil servant.
Another source close to the committee said: “Malami agreed before the parliamentary panel that he held a meeting with Maina in Dubai, although he insisted that he was not responsible for his dramatic return to the service. “
The source added: “The committee discovered that three letters were written by the Justice Minister asking questions from the FCSC on Maina. There is no record that the questions were answered by the FCSC in any correspondence.
“The fourth letter was written by the Attorney-general in January as a directive to the Civil Service Commission to reinstate Maina. In the letter, the AG asked for Maina’s status, his position, rank and next rank.
“There was another letter in February where the AG directed the Civil Service Commission to reinstate Maina. The committee frowned at this because under the constitution, they felt the AG cannot issue that kind of directive.”
According to the source, the AG wrote another letter in April asking whether the reinstatement had been effected. In that letter, he directed the FCSC to promote Maina to Director.
The source added: “When committee members asked the AG to react to the allegations that he wrote the letters, the AG agreed that he wrote them, but said he could not remember all that he wrote. He pleaded with the committee to allow him contact his files to ascertain the content. He promised to return tomorrow. The committee agreed.
The source added: “The committee was satisfied that the Head of Service (HoS) of the Federation documented everything.
“The Committee observed that she was tidy. It was learnt that at the sitting, the HoS did not release the purported letter written by the Civil Service Commission to Maina. The question the committee will be finding answer to on Thursday is where the Ministry of Interior got the letter it relied upon to reinstate Maina”.
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