Almost everyone believes that Nigeria’s Attorney-general, Abubakar Malami, has a case to answer over the recall of former head of the Presidential Task Team on Pensions Reform, Abdulrasheed Maina.
The one person who should be most worried about Malami’s conduct however, is Pres. Muhammadu Buhari. Ironically, the president seems to be the only one not interested in taking action.
Nigerians have long suspected foul play in the role Malami played in the recall of Maina. Several letters were written from his office to the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, as well as the Federal Civil Service Commission, seeking Maina’s recall.
Skeletons in his closet
The National Assembly has said it wants to get to the root of the matter. Curiously, Malami ran to the Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday, seeking to stop the #MainaGate by the senate. The trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako, rejected the AGF’s application though and has now fixed January 15 for hearing of the motion.
For the Senate, Malami’s decision to rush to the courts shows that he has “skeletons in his cupboard.”
“We are wondering what the AGF is afraid of. When he appeared before our committee, he was well received and fairly treated. He 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,” said senate spokesman, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi.
Even Buhari’s anti-corruption czar is tired
Prof. Itse Sagay, the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, who has been one of Buhari’s most vociferous supporters has grown weary of the discrepancies in Malami’s stories and actions.
In an interview, he called on Pres. Buhari to probe his attorney-general.
“As the attorney general, you met a fugitive who is wanted for a very heinous crime of depriving thousands of elderly people of their rights. You don’t, for any reason, go to hold discussions with such a person. Your job should be to extradite and try him. He compromised himself by meeting with him. He says he didn’t write any letter regarding the reinstatement of Maina but the letter emanated from his ministry. So, let the President investigate the attorney general,” Sagay said in an interview with The Punch.
Yet Buhari continues to be loyal to Malami
In spite of all the evidence against Malami, Pres. Buhari continues to shield him, raising serious questions about the administration’s anti-corruption agenda.
Buhari’s protection of the attorney-general has brought to fore the question of whether the president is in bed with him.
How much did Pres. Buhari know about Malami’s actions?
The Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita, said in a leaked memo last year that she had informed Pres. Buhari of the moves to recall Maina, which she reportedly opposed.
“I sought audience with His Excellency, Mr. President on Wednesday, 11th October, 2017 after the FEC meeting where I briefed His Excellency verbally on the wide-ranging implications of the reinstatement of Mr. A. A. Maina, especially the damaging impact on the anti-corruption stance of this administration,” she wrote.
Also, recall that Maina’s family had alleged in a statement that the fugitive returned to the country on the invitation of Pres. Buhari, following a meeting facilitated and attended by Malami and the DG of the Department of State Services (DSS), Lawal Daura.
“It is on record that Abdulrasheed Maina’s reform put to a stop the fraudulent withdrawals of huge sums from both the Nigerian Pension Board, the Nigerian Police Pension Board etc. Perhaps it is this noble efforts that made him enviable to the present administration when they came into power to convince him to come back and assist in its “Change” agenda,” the family said.
Could it be that Malami’s actions had the seal of the president, hence the fierce loyalty and protection which Buhari is giving him in return? Could it be that the president does not see how untenable Malami’s position is because the attorney-general did not act alone? Those are serious questions begging for answers – and those answers may be why Malami continues to sit pretty.