9 January 2018

Nigeria: Maina - Senate Mocks Attorney General Malami's Bid to Stop Probe

The Senate has challenged the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, AGF Abubakar Malami, to explain why he approached the court to stop its ongoing probe into the reinstatement of fugitive ex-pension boss, Abdulrasheed Maina.

The Senate wants Mr. Malami to explain why 'he has been running around the courts seeking to stop the probe by the two chambers of the National Assembly into how Mr. Abdulrashid Maina, an assistant director in the Ministry of Interior, was surreptitiously reinstated into the service after being dismissed.'

The position of the Senate was made known through a statement signed by the Chairman, its Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Sabi Abdullahi.

The Senate expressed surprise that the AGF, instead of using the time availed him by the National Assembly to state his case, "resorted to legal battles to stop the probe.

"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 on all institutions, bodies and individuals, particularly those who access funds that have been appropriated by us. We, however, expressed our commendation to the judiciary for upholding the principles of separation of powers and insisting on fair-hearing. We believe that is the reason why the judge refused to grant the prayers of the AGF yesterday and rather insisted that the National Assembly should be put on notice and served all the court processes is so that we could enter our own defence.

"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 their reports on time. The Senate believes Nigerians are interested in knowing the 'how, who, why and where' of what is now known as the 'Maina Gate'. We definitely will not allow those who want the facts buried to prevail," the statement quoted Mr. Abdullahi as saying.

The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on Monday declined an ex parte application seeking to stop the Senate's probe into the controversial recall of Mr. Maina.

An ex-parte decision is one decided by a judge without requiring all of the parties to the controversy to be present.

The application filed by Nigeria's Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, had among other issues contended that the Senate lacked the powers to proceed with its investigation into Mr. Maina's recall by the executive arm of government.

Mr. Malami had asked the court to stop the Senate from pursuing the ongoing probe into the controversial recall.

If granted, the order would have been enforceable, despite the Senate's absence at Wednesday's hearing.

However, in her ruling, Justice Binta Nyako asked that the defendants including the Senate be served hearing notices to allow them to attend court on the next adjourned date, January 15, to defend themselves.

The court specifically ruled that the defendants appear in court to explain why the application should not be granted.

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