Former Pension Reform Task Force Chairman Abdulrasheed Maina may soon come out of hiding. A Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja yesterday granted a perpetual injunction against his arrest by security agencies.
The court also vacated an earlier warrant of arrest issued on Maina by the Senate.
Justice Adamu Bello, who delivered the judgement in the enforcement of a fundamental human right suit instituted by Maina, hinged his verdict on the ground that the Senate did not follow due process in issuing the warrant.
The judge noted that the upper chamber of the National Assembly failed to annex all necessary documents to aid the dismissal of Maina’s request before his court.
Bello, however, cautioned against misreading his judgement as an affirmation that the Senate lacks the powers to investigate or summon any person to give evidence regarding any subject matter under investigation, stressing that the injunction is about the warrant of arrest being set aside.
Maina sued the Senate President and the Clerk of the Senate before the court.
Joined in the suit are the Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service; Senate Committee on State and Local Government Administration; the Inspector-General of Police; Senator Alloysius Etuk, Chairman, Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service; Senator Kabiru Gaya, Chairman, Senate Committee on State and Local Government Administration.
Maina urged the court to quash the purported report of the Senate Committee’s resolutions and declare the warrant issued for his arrest as unconstitutional, null and void.
Justice Bello said: “From the reliefs sought by the applicant, the application is challenging the powers of the Senate to issue a warrant of arrest, a careful perusal of Section 35(1) shows clearly the right of liberty guaranteed the applicant by the Constitution, but however the right is absolute.
“Going by this, the applicant is entitled to a fair hearing. The issue now is to determine whether the applicant’s case falls on the exceptional clauses.
“Section 88(2) of the 1999 Constitution gives the National Assembly the power to invite or summon an individual for questioning in order to expose corruption and inefficiency among others.
“However, the power of the Senate is subjected to the provision of Section 88 of the 1999 Constitution, which highlighted the conditions to follow before an individual will be summoned.
“This power of the Senate should be free from abuse and the term of reference should be clear. Any invitation by the Senate outside the purpose highlighted in Section 88(2) is illegal and unconstitutional.
“The Senate ought not to have invited the applicant in the first place. A proper investigative committee must have been constituted in accordance with constitution.
The power to call for investigation by the Senate under Section 88(2) is predicated on a published resolution. The respondents have failed to produce or annex vital documents to their counter affidavit; they only exhibited the warrant of arrest signed by the Senate President. The implication of not producing such vital documents means there is no evidence before me to show that investigation is going on the subject matter.
“The warrant of arrest was not validly issued. It is, therefore, set aside. Relief one is hereby granted, the respondents are perpetually restrained from arresting the applicant on account of the warrant arrest being set aside. I will only advise the applicant to submit himself to the Senate.”
Reacting to the judgement, Maina’s counsel, Mahmud Magaji, SAN, said the rule of law has prevailed.
He said: “We are not in any way challenging the powers of the Senate; neither are we encouraging anyone to be disrespectful to them. All we are saying is that, in the course of exercising their powers, the rule of law must be allowed to prevail. We are only saying that the right thing should be done rightly”.
Asked if Maina’s absence in court was a confirmation of the news that he had fled the country, Magaji said Maina had only gone underground due to what he called the threat to his life. The lawyer said he was ready to produce the International passport of his client to prove that he never left the country
JD: Hm!this country na wa! So Maina can now roam the treets a free man as theres a perpetual injunction restraining the senate from arresting him.Perhaps the EFCC had better come in now and bring this man to come and explain his role in the pension scam saga.Suddenly i dont know my country anymore,i dont know my people anymore and the question is who do i turn to?Who will salvage this country from this terrible dark cloud that hovers over us.Crime doesnt pay they say, but in Nigeria it seems to have a price.What a shame,what a pity!