Head of Service of the Federation (HoS), Mrs. Winfred Oyo-Ita insisted at the House of Representatives public hearing on the ‘Mainagate’, Thursday, that there were letters from the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF) to the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC), directing reinstatement of runaway Chairman of Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina.
Also, Acting Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission, Joseph Akande, said letter of reabsorption came from AGF.
This is contrary to the testimony of the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who said he never wrote the letter that reinstated Maina.
Oyo-Ita testified that she was surprised to hear about Maina’s reinstatement in the media like anyone else, submitting that the Ministry of Interior never acted on her letters.
She said that the decision to hold on to the letters requesting Maina’s recall was borne out some inner conviction that a government which is thriving on anti-corruption fight could not have given any vent to such vice.
The Head of Service added that she has never received any notification that Maina challenged his dismissal in court since her appointment.
She said: “Maina was dismissed in 2013 from Federal Civil Service.
“Sometime this year, letters began to come from AGF to the Federal Civil Service Commission, copied to my office
“AGF directed that Maina should be reinstated.
“When I got hold of the letter, I held on to it.
“I learnt through the media that he had been reinstated. Those are the clarifications I have to make on this.
“No Ministry has the authorities to issue reinstatement letters. When I learnt through the media and a letter from the Chief of Staff that Mr. Maina had been reinstated, I wrote a letter to Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior.
“The Permanent Secretary never acted on any letter from my office. The Federal Civil Service Commission has its own mandate
“It is surprising that without my conveying this letter, the Ministry of Interior went ahead to reinstate Maina.
“I decided to hold onto that letter to seek further clarification. I was concerned that the decision to reinstate Maina may not have been in the interest of the present administration. I held on because Maina may not have cleared the issue with the security agencies.
“I have not received such notifications from the time I took over.”
Asked why she entertained any letter from the AGF as against the Civil Service practices and norms, Oyo-Ita said that the office of the Attorney General as the first legal office of the country was not thought to be insensitive to the law.
“The AGF is the number one legal authority of this country. So, whatever legal decision he has would not be discarded just like that”, she said.
In his own testimony, the Acting Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission, Joseph Akande said that Maina was sacked for dereliction of duty.
He equally confirmed that the AGF wrote the commission letters requesting the recall of Miana.
“Mr. Maina was declared absent from duty 2013 and attempts to locate him proved abortive. The Ministry informed the HoS of the query. The Ministry of Interior gave the query. They were unable to locate him.
“A letter was addressed to Maina. When Mr. Maina was unable to respond to the query, the Ministry considered it, Senior Staff Committee recommeded to the Ministry that Mr. Maina should be dismissed. Sometime in 2014, Mr. Maina wrote the commission, appealing that the committttee should reconsider and review his dismissal.
“In January, 2017 the Commission received a letter from AGF and the Minister, dated 19 January which was also copied to the HoS, demanding update on the dismissal
“The second letter also came that he is the Chief Legal Officer of the country and Maina’s dismissal cannot stand, so, we looked at it and wrote to the Interior Ministry to advise us.”
Akande also stated that it could not have been possible to ignore letters from the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation.
The Minister of Interior, Gen. Abduralman Danbazzua told the Committee that his Ministry had no knowledge of Maina’s disappearance, re-appearance, reinstatement and promotion in the Federal Civil Service.
“The Ministry has no hand”, he simply told the committee.
When the committee Chairman, Hon. Aliyu Madaki asked of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, the Minister said, “The Perm Secretary is on medical leave. We are expecting him back later this week.
With that the Chairman said: “We will wait for the Perm Sec to return to personally make his appearance.”
Yet at another instance in the course of the hearing, the committee tried to get more reactions from the Minister, but he maintained his earlier position of not having any knowledge of the saga.
“I do not have personal knowledge of that. I don’t have anything to say on that. Maybe, the Perm Sec might have something to say on that”, Dambazzau said.
He however made an attempt to get a Director in the Ministry to speak but the staff told the committee that she just resumed work in the Ministry not too long ago and as such had no knowledge of the issue
At that point, the Committe chairman ruled that they would wait for the Permanent Secretary to return.
“We will allow the Perm Sec to come and handle that”, Hon. Madaki said.