J’accuse: The Unjust Villification of Abdulrasheed Maina

It becomes a farcical spectacle, this display of an utter lack of integrity by the various economic and media ‘authorities’ who have bartered their sincerity for the sake of concealing their indiscretions. The hounding of Abdulrasheed Maina by the EFFC and co. has taken up an unignorable amount of media space, and it only seems fair that the opposing side of the story be relayed. Nigerians deserve to have the truth about this unfortunate saga uncovered; Maina deserves to have his maliciously tainted name vindicated.

 

The background to this story, although familiar to members of the public by now, is well worth reiterating, if only to clarify certain factual errors surrounding this case. In 2013, under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, Maina, a civilian, was appointed head of a joint task force comprising of agents from various bodies, including the EFCC. The aim of this force was to carry out investigations into the stories surrounding pension scams. In fact, Maina distinguished himself in this post through his dedication and aptitude. By 2014, his investigations had shaken up the pension sector. Several accounts which had been used to siphon money from the pension fund were uncovered, and Maina assisted the government in recovering over 1.3 trillion naira. This was welcome news – consider, for example, the fact 98% of pensioners have been denied their benefits since November 2012.

 

 

As one can imagine, this did not particularly impress the culprits, who remain vested in their own interests. Since the success of his investigation, Maina has faced a profound backlash. A ‘investigative panel’ was launched against him as he now faced quite untrue allegations of fraud. With pressure coming from Maina’s enemies and from the misinformed media, he was unjustly and prematurely removed from his post, and was forced into exile in Dubai. It will be obvious to anyone with a sense of justice that this victimization was simply a vengeful reaction to his fight against corruption. We must not, as well, ignore the culpability of the government in buckling to pressure.

 

Maina remained in Dubai until after he put out feelers back to Nigeria following the change of administration with the election of President Buhari. He was reinstated by the present government three months ago, in an apparent vindication and compensation for his unfair dismissal. Indeed, the government seems to have realized the value of his service. Unfortunately, Maina’s enemies and their lackeys in the press doubled down on this development and brewed up a media storm with false allegations against him. He was then forced to leave his job once again as the government buckled, once again, to pressure from the media. Since then, it would appear that Maina has gone into hiding – he has been declared wanted (without a valid warrant, it must be made clear) and has been blackmailed and harassed by the EFCC.

 

In response to the crimes of his political enemies, the Roman senator Cicero cried out ‘O tempora! O mores!’. Indeed. For what great irony it is, what shame that the very organization that should serve to protect this country from economic crimes has degraded to preying on an individual who has committed himself to this good fight. There are few things more morally repulsive that the embezzlement of the hard-earned pensions of a work-force who have already suffered enough. In a nation, which in the 21st century, still lacks a welfare system, and so frequently fails to show regard for its citizens (need we go into the details of the frankly Kafkaesque frustration of the average Nigerian career), it is clear where these criminals stand – with themselves and against anyone who would dare stand against them. With such reprehensible self-interest and moral bankruptcy on display from the outset, it is not even surprising that they would go to such lengths to discredit an honest thorn in their flesh as Maina has been. Quel catastrophe. This is not something that affects Maina alone; this concerns us all, and the public must rally to protect this man from these villains.

 

Let us suspend the rhetoric – available for scrutiny are a set of court documents which not only serve as evidence of Maina’s innocence, but also should put an end to any further slander against his name. I quote for the sake of full disclosure:

 

SUIT NO: FHC/ABJ/CS/65/13 BETWEEN ABDULRASHEED MAINA VS. THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBBLIC OF NIGERIA & 8 ORS

In the suit FHC/ABJ/CS/65/13 between Abdulrasheed Maina Vs. The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria & 8 ors, the applicant sought among others the following reliefs-:

  1. An order setting aside the warrant of arrest issued by the 6th respondent against the applicant on the 2nd of February 2013 as same constitutes a violation of the applicant’s rights as guaranteed under section 35 of the Constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
  2. A declaration that the decision of the Senate through its joint committees on establishment and public service; and the Committee on State and Local Government Administration directing the immediate arrest and the detention of the applicant by the 5th respondent without any legal justification in unconstitutional, illegal, ultra vires null and void and of no effect whatsoever as same violates section 33(1) and 6(6) (b) of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.
  3. An order restraining the respondents especially the 3, 4th and 5th respondents, their agents, servants and privies howsoever called, either jointly and or severally from interfering with the management of the pensions reforms task team, as same is unconstitutional, illegal, null and void as same violates the provisions of section 36(1) and 6(6) (b) of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria 1999.
  4. An order restraining the 3rd and 4th respondents jointly and severally from further issuance of any letter of invitation to the applicant as the respondent having completed and submitted their report without giving fair hearing to the applicant of a violation of the applicant’s rights as guaranteed under the constitution. The 3rd and 4th respondent are hereby put on notice to produce the said report before this honourable court to ascertain whether the applicant was actually given fair hearing before the report was made.
  5. An order quashing the purported report of the 3rd and 4th respondent (senate committee on establishment and public service’; and senate committee on state and local government administration) as same breaches the applicant’s right to fair hearing.
  6. An order of certiorari mandating the respondents either by themselves, their agents, servants, privies however called to bring before this court any wrong alleged to have been committed by the applicant in the exercise of his duties as chairman pension task team and or setting aside the resolution of the respondents mandating the 5th respondent to arrest the applicant.
  7. A declaration that the threat and intimidation and attempt to arrest the applicant by the respondents on the basis of applicant’s exercise of his lawful and legitimate duties as chairman pension reform task team in unconstitutional, illegal, null and void of no effect whatsoever.
  8. An order of injunction restraining the respondents, their agents, servants and privies howsoever so called either jointly and or severally from arresting or threatening to arrest the applicant whop is exercising his lawful duties as chairman pension reform task team.
  9. An order of this honourable court setting aside or quashing the purported warrant of arrest issued by the respondents jointly or severally by themselves or their agents, privies, servants howsoever so called from further unlawful harassment, intimidation and attempt to arrest the applicant as chairman pension reform task team, and quashing the resolution of the 1st respondent mandating the 5th respondent to arrest the applicant.
  10. An order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents jointly and or severally by themselves, their agents, privies, servants however so called from further unlawful harassment, intimidation and attempt to arrest the applicant, chairman pension reform task team and quashing the resolution of the 1st respondent mandating the 5ths respondent to arrest the applicant.
  11. An order directing the respondents to pay the applicant N1,000,000,000,000.00 (One Billion Naira) on the footing of the aggravated and exemplary damages for the unlawful interference with the applicant’s right to perform his lawful duties and the sum of N500,000,000.00 as general and exemplary damages.
  12. And for such further or other orders as the honourable court may deem fir to make in the circumstances.

 

Upon a careful perusal, the court considered the powers of the Senate to invite and exercise oversight functions over individuals and parastatals, departments and agencies of Government; vis a vis the constitutionally guaranteed rights of citizens as provided for under chapter 4 of the constitution.

The court relying on the provisions of sections 40(1) and (2) and order 2 rule 1 of the FREPR 2009 held that every citizens has unfettered right to approach the courts for the enforcement of his fundamental rights whenever he feels these are being violated, or threatened. Invariably an applicant does not to wait until his rights are violated before approaching the courts. It is enough if the applicant is in the fear of his rights being violated or threatened of it thereof.

The applicant’s main grouse in the suit was the numerous invitations sent by the senate committees on the applicant as the chairman Pension Reform Task Team, resulting in the issuance of an arrest warrant against the applicant..

The court considered the constitutional rights of the applicant dealing with the right to fair hearing and personal liberty on the one hand and the senate committees powers to summon the applicant to appear before them and the powers to issue a warrant of arrest against the applicant.

The court considered the provisions of section 35(1) (a) – (f) and section 36(1) provisions for the fundamental rights of the applicants. The court also considered sections 88(1) and (2) and 89(1) and (2) upon which the senate committees predicated their powers.

The court came to the conclusion that the condition precedent for the issuance of an arrest warrant to compel attendance of a person or corporation before the National Assembly are the resolution of the house or senate and the publication of such resolution of such resolution in the journal or official gazette the Government of the federation and proceeded to hold further that failure of the respondents to exhibit evidence showing these documents meant that the condition precedent was lacking and as such the issuance of the arrest warrant is unlawful. The foundation for the issuance of the arrest warrant thus lacking renders it a nullity and thus illegal. The senate committee sitting was not validly constituted thus rubbing it of its power to issue a warrant of arrest. The warrant was not validly issued and as such was set aside by the court.

The court consequently issued an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Senate from arresting the applicant on account of the warrant of arrest being invalid and set aside.

The legal implication of this judgment which was not appealed against by the respondents should not be lost on Nigerians. The travails of Abdulrasheed Maina could be traced to this senate committees sittings; and thus having been declared invalidly constituted, everything emanating therefrom must collapse in its entirety, as one cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand.

It can validly be concluded therefore, that Abdulrasheed Maina has no arrest warrant from the senate against him.

 

 

SUIT NO: CV/1776/14 BETWEEN ABDULRASHEED MAINA VS. COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF NIGERIA IMMIGRATION SERVICE AND ANO

In another Suit No: CV/1776/14 between Abdulrasheed Maina vs. Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service and Ano; wherein the applicant had commenced an action for the enforcement of his fundamental human rights against his interception and prevention from overseas travels by the men of the Nigeria Immigration Service on the basis of his being placed on the “No Fly List”

The high court of the federal capital territory as per hon justice Adeniyi held -:

  1. It is hereby declared that the action of the men and the officers of the 1st respondent, in placing the applicant on a no fly list and intercepting and preventing from embarking on oversees travels, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe international airport on the 2nd march 2014 is unlawful and thereby constitutes a gross violation of his fundamental rights to freedom of movement guaranteed by the provisions of section 41 of the constitution.
  2. The purported 1st respondent’s illegal No Fly list as it affects the applicant, is hereby accordingly quashed and set aside.
  3. The sum of N2m is awarded in favour of the applicant against the 1st respondent as exemplary damages for the infringement of his fundamental rights afore declared.
  4. The 1st respondent is hereby further restrained whether by himself, his officers, agents, privies or howsoever called or described from further acting on the said illegal no fly list as it concerns the applicant; and from further restricting or impeding the enjoyment of his fundamental rights to freedom of movement without legal justification.

This suit once more brings to the fore the inviolability of citizen’s right to freedom of movement and a reaffirmation that the Constitution is sacrosanct. By this judgment whatever impediments there are impeding the Applicant from proceeding on  oversea travels is removed and quashed.

 

 

SUIT NO M/62/16 ABDULRASHEED MAINA V. EFCC AND ANO

In suit no M/62/16 between Abdulrasheed Maina V. Efcc and Ano; before the Chief magistrate court of the Federal Capital Territory, the applicant has approached the Court seeking for an Order setting aside the arrest warrant earlier issued against him, pursuant to an application by the EFCC.

The court upon a careful consideration, on the 6th of May 2016 granted the application brought on behalf of the Applicant and ordered the setting aside the warrant of arrest issued against the applicant, same having been issued without jurisdiction.

This order like the previous ones considered above have not been challenged on appeal and subsists.

In the final analysis, the subjection of the person to such scurrilous attack in the media is a clear pointer to the fact that there is certainly more to this whole attacke than meets the eye. There is no legal impediment whatsoever impeding the person of Abdulrasheed Maina from going about his daily duties as a law abiding citizen.

 

In light of this, it bears repeating, it must be made clear that the judicial harassment has no grounding in fact or in legislation; if those two things might even be construed as separate (they are not). This scandal seems simply to be a reaction of the bad eggs in the EFCC and their supporters to an exposure of their gross shortcomings. This is above all a shame and it is an insult to public decency and intelligence. The perversion of Maina’s rights as a private citizen and as a civil servant who has devoted himself to the noble cause of weeding out corruption and fighting for the common man is a tragedy. It must not be permitted any further.

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