Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday, declined to grant an order of interim injunction restraining the National Assembly from probing the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) over the reinstatement of Abdulrasheed Maina, into the Federal Civil Service.
Maina, the former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, was dismissed from service in 2013 for absconding from duty after the office of the Head of Service had made some recommendations.
Maina was at some point a fugitive, having been declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
However, he was recalled and deployed to the Ministry of Interior under controversial circumstances late last year on the advice of the AGF.
Following public outcry that greeted his reinstatement, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered Maina’s sacking again while the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita, was asked to probe the embarrassing situation.
Consequently, on October 24, 2017, the Senate mandated its committees on Public Service, Internal Affairs, Anti-corruption, Establishment and Judiciary to probe the circumstances leading to Maina’s return to the country and recall into the public service.
It was learnt that the decision of the Senate to conduct a forensic investigation into the issue instigated Malami to file a motion ex parte seeking a restraining order against the National Assembly.
Malami had denied any involvement in Maina’s recall when he appeared before the House of Representatives in November 2017.
However, upon hearing of the exparte application brought by the AGF, the court in its ruling yesterday refused to grant the order.
Justice Nyako rather ordered that the National Assembly be put on notice in respect of the application, while fixing January 15 for it to come and show cause why the interim injunction sought by Malami would not be granted.
The AGF had asked the court to determine whether the National Assembly has the right to probe issues relating to “employment, attendance at work, disengagement, reinstatement and or promotion of a civil servant.”
He is also asking the court to among other things, declare that the employment, attendance at work, disengagement, reinstatement and or promotion of a civil servant are matters outside the exclusive and concurrent legislative lists contained in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
He wants the court to declare that the National Assembly cannot legitimately regulate the employment, attendance at work, disengagement, reinstatement and or promotion of a civil servant, which are matters exclusively within the purview of the Federal Civil Service Commission under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
In effect, the AGF is seeking a declaration by the court that the National Assembly lacks the legislative competence to embark on the mission it has assigned itself.
“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) is limited and such that can only be exercised within the confines of Section 88 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended); that the plaintiff as the chief law officer and minister of justice of the federation is bound to ensure compliance by the Federal Government of Nigeria and or any of its cognate organs/agencies with the express or implied contents of extant judgments and orders of competent courts in Nigeria; that the defendant cannot constitute itself into a quasi-appellate court, tribunal or panel with a view to reviewing any executive action taken in compliance with the adverse judgment in the said Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/65/2013.”