An aide to President Muhammadu Buhari has said no court has found fugitive federal civil servant, Abdulrasheed Maina, guilty of any offence.
Mr. Maina was recently reinstated and promoted to a higher position, prompting a national outrage which caused Mr. Buhari to order his immediate dismissal.
The president on Monday also directed investigation of the circumstances of Mr. Maina’s return to the civil service.
But an aide to the president does not see the point of the uproar about Mr. Maina.
“If he has not been found guilty of any offence, I do not see why some people are outraged by his purported reabsorption into the federal civil service,” the President’s Special Assistant on Prosecution, Okoi Obono-Obla, said on Monday in an interview on Channels Television, a few hours before Mr. Buhari’s order that Mr. Maina be sacked.
“If the EFCC declares me wanted, that does not mean that I have been adjudged guilty,” Mr. Obono-Obla said.
“It is only a court of competent jurisdiction that can adjudge anybody guilty,” he added.
Mr. Obono-Obla said it was not just enough to say that Mr. Maina committed an offence, but that he must be arraigned and convicted by a court of law.
While defending President Buhari as having no hand in the reinstatement of Mr. Maina, Mr. Obono-Obla said, “The President has no hand in the discipline of public servants.
“The discipline, promotion, and recruitment of federal public servants is the responsibility of a body created by the Constitution known as the Federal Civil Service Commission.
“And the procedure under the public service rules is that if a civil servant is arraigned before a court over a commission of a criminal offence, the permanent secretary of the ministry that the civil servant is working has to invoke the relevant sections of the federal public service rules, interdict that civil servant and place him on suspension, on half pay, pending the hearing and determination of the criminal charge against that civil servant,” he said.
PREMIUM TIMES, Tuesday, contacted the presidential aide to ask him what his reaction was now that Mr. Buhari has ordered the sack of Mr. Maina.
“I still stand by my position,” Mr. Obono-Obla said. “Has this man been found guilty by the court of law?
“In as much as we are fighting corruption, we must follow due process.
“You don’t expect me as a lawyer to begin to castigate a man and condemn him when he has not been convicted by the court of law. I was not trying to absolve him of the allegation against him, I was asking ‘has this man been convicted?”
Mr. Obono-Obla said his position did not in any way mean that Mr. Buhari was wrong to have ordered the sack of Mr. Maina.
“I cannot say that the president is wrong; the president is the chief executive officer. If he has made a pronouncement, then it has to pass through the appropriate organs of government and take off from there.
“In any case, the president has said that this matter should be investigated, a query was issued to the Head of Service and all that. We will get there,” he said.
Courtesy: PREMIUM TIMES