By Jiti Ogunye
While we commend President Muhammadu Buhari for dousing the anger in the land which emanated from the surreptitious and scandalous recall, absorption and promotion of Abdulrasheed Maina as a director in the Ministry of Interior, we are compelled to ask the critical question whether the president can lawfully direct the dismissal or termination of the employment of a civil servant in the Public Service of the Federation, without following the due process of law.
The facts that we know are that both the Office of the Head of Service and Abdulrahman Dambazzau’ s Ministry of the Interior have publicly issued statements that Mr. Maina was recalled and posted to the Ministry of Interior.
So, we must assume that while Nigerians were totally unaware, Mr. Maina was brought back into this country and reintegrated into the Public Service of the Federation. Thus, Mr. Maina, before the president’s directive ” was in the civil service of the Federation”
Under the law ( Public Service Rules and Section 11 (1)(b)of the Interpretation Act, Cap I 23, Vol.8, LFN, 2004,), it is the Federal Civil Service Commission or the Permanent Secretary or Heads of Extra Ministerial Department as the case may be (to whom disciplinary powers are delegated) that have the statutory power to mete disciplinary actions, including dismissal (or sack ) to civil servants.
In particular, Rule 04102 of the Public Service Rules provides that “the power to dismiss and to exercise disciplinary control over officers in the Federal Civil Service Commission is vested in the FCSC. This power may be delegated to any member of the Commission or any officer in the Federal Civil Service ”
Legally, therefore, the president lacks the power to sack or direct the sack of Mr. Maina.
But the President has the power to sack his AGF, the Minister of the Interior and any political appointee including his Chief of Staff who are reported to have masterminded and orchestrated the Maina fiasco.
So, the President has left those he could sack and has gone for the head of the one he could not lawfully sack.
It appears to be forlorn hope that the President will move soon against the members of his kitchen cabinet who are hatching one plot of dent for him after another.
But I can hear people shout for joy. “Thank goodness that the President has acted; what is rule of law and due process anyway? What was necessary was for Maina, the weapon of integrity destruction (WID) to be defused” .
As we say, borrowing from the Nigerian parlance, ” end of story” Nigeria is an interesting country. Very interesting.
Mr. Ogunye is Legal Adviser to PREMIUM TIMES