Maina Reinstatement: The Law and the Attorney General of the Federation

Abdulrasheed Maina

By May Ubeku

As the controversy of the reinstatement of former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reform Team (PTPT), Mallam Abdulrasheed Maina continues, my private investigations have revealed the utter helplessness of the office of the Attorney General of the Federation in the intriguing saga…

Fugitive Maina had been accused of embezzling 100 billion of naira of pensioners’ funds and is under probe by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. He however recently resurfaced and was reinstated into the civil service by the federal government.

When the news of the reinstatement of Maina broke out, the federal government was understandably accused of aiding the return of a fugitive into the country and reinstating him into the civil service.

Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, told the press that President Muhammadu Buhari was aware of Maina’s reinstatement and that she had warned him about its implications for the anti-corruption war of the federal government.
Following Maina’s sack, his family spokesman in a press briefing revealed that, Maina was brought back by the Buhari-led government to assist the government in the Pension Reform Task Team.

According to series of letters dated 10th January, 2017 and 9th February 2017, written by Mr. Maina’a counsel, Sir O.J Onyemah of Restoration Chambers, to the office of the Attorney General of the Federation office OAGF, Onyemah had sought the intervention of the OAGF to reinstate his client into the public service according to the court judgments obtained in 2013 and 2014 quashing the illegal dismissal of his client’s from the civil Service, in order to redress the alleged injustice meted to him in the course of his assignment at the Pension Reform Task Team.

The letters that were written to the office of the attorney general of the federation by Maina, include the following Judgments and Orders; (a) 27th March 2013 in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/65/13 between Abdulrasheed Maina V. The Senate Federal Republic of Nigeria and 8 Ors., (b) 6th May 2016, in Suit No: M/62/16 between Abdulrasheed Maina V. Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and Inspector General of Police inter alia setting aside the Warrant of Arrest issued against Mr. Maina by the EFCC, and, (c) 23rd October 2014 in Suit No: CV/1776/14 between Abdulrasheed Maina V. Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service and Inspector General of Police quashing and setting aside the Nigerian Immigration Service’s illegal ’’No Fly List’’ as it affects Mr. Maina, and awarding damages in the sum of Two Million Naira in favour of Mr. Maina as exemplary damages for the infringement of his fundamental Right to Freedom of Movement as guaranteed by Section 41 of the 1999 Constitution (as Amended).

The crux of the matter is that after the Court judgments and orders were obtained by Maina in between 2013 and 2014, none of the parties involved appealed against the judgments and orders within a period of either 14 days in respect of interlocutory orders or three months maximum in respect of final judgments.

Following the antecedents of case and the failure of the parties involved to appeal the judgments and orders as at when due before the Buhari-led administration came into office and Abubakar Malami, SAN was appointed the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the burden to reinstate Maina was automatically passed unto this government after his counsel in January 2017 wrote an appeal to the office of the Attorney General of the Federation to reinstate his client.

According to an undisclosed source in the ministry of Justice, “In October 2016, the office of the Attorney General of the Federation has had course to issue a letter of instruction dated 12 October 2016, in favour of Merss M.E Sherrif & Co. for recovery of N260m against AMD Global Resources Ltd which by the investigation is linked to Maina and the amount was recovered and the lawyers were paid their recovery fees.

This should tell anyone that the office of the Attorney General of the Federation had no vested interest in Maina’s case as mischievously speculated but that the office of the Attorney General of the Federation was acted in good faith over a civil matter, an action which however does not have the effect of conferring immunity on Maina from future arrest or prosecution. According to the source, the action of the OAGF was designed to sustain give effect to the rule of law in compliance with subsisting judgments and orders of court”.

Bottom line: The law had effectively tied the hands of the Attorney General of the Federation in the Maina matter because of unappealed judgements whose mandatory appeal limits had passed.

My take: The different government agencies involved including all acted disjointedly in the Maina saga even prior to the emergence of the current Attorney General. And it amounts to being clever by half to blame the poor guy for following the law. The Attorney General supervises the EFCC, which is now hot on Maina’s tail. If he had a vested interest he would have called them off long ago.