The pervasive corruption and impunity among the ranks of President Muhammadu Buhari’s lieutenants have continued unabated as his directive to reinstate a female auditor with the Niger Delta Power Holding Limited (NDPHC), Mrs Maryam Danna Mohammed has remained unimplemented.
One year after the Presidential directive, Mrs Mohammed, who was illegally retired as NDPHC General Manager Audit, is yet to be reinstated.
Mrs Mohammed, a widow from Borno State and an award-winning chartered accountant, was disengaged in controversial circumstances over her anti-corruption stance. She had written petitions to the Presidency complaining that the retirement did not follow due process, and President Buhari responded positively to her call. The immediate past Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal however did not effect the President’s directive until his exit from the government on corruption allegations.
Following the directive of President Buhari, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami SAN, on October 25, 2016, sent a letter to the Chief of Staff (CoS), Abba Kyari, who is also from Borno State, directing that Mrs. Mohammed should be reinstated.
“In this connection, I wish to convey to you Mr. President’s approval vide a meeting with the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice on the 12th October 2016, for the reinstatement of the staff (petitioner), Mrs Maryam Danna Mohammed,” the AGF stated in the letter.
Believed to be complicit in the wrongful disengagement of the Mrs Mohammed are the the Offices of Vice President, SGF and CoS.
Without any query, the then SGF, Lawal, had issued a letter conveying notification of Mrs Mohammed’s disengagement as GM NDPHC with effect from June 10, 2016, while a Special Adviser to the Vice President was appointed as acting Managing Director of the company.
Initially, the SGF had announced the dissolution of the Executive Management of NDPHC and directed the Managing Director of the company to hand over to the aide of the Vice President. He also directed all the Executive Directors to handover immediately to the most senior officers in their respective departments.
Curiously, only Mrs Mohammed was retired among the 13 General Managers in the office.
PRNigeria’s findings have indicated that her retirement was a punitive measure against her for exposing corrupt practices in NDPHC. She was also accused of ‘blowing a whistle’ over top officers of the organisation who did not possess basic and mandatory requirements for appointments into office.
One of her Audit Reports in 2014 exposed anomalies in the credentials of the then Executive Director, Technical Services at NDPHC, Mr Louis Edozien for presenting neither a discharge nor an exemption certificate from National Youth Service Corps before his appointment.
For that offence, Edozien was removed from the service, but he miraculously found his way back in November 2015 as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, a supervisory organ to NDPHC, while Mrs Mohammed was disengaged in June 2016.
Besides his stint at NDPHC, Edozien did not work in the civil service all his life. He was appointed Permanent Secretary in spite of the recommendations of the security agencies, especially the Department of State Security, with the suspicion that highly placed officials in the Presidency facilitated the process.
While the media in Nigeria had reported her case, some legal practitioners and Non-Governmental Organisations have also lent their voices to the unfair treatment of Mrs Mohammed. In its statement, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) condemned “the high-handed action taken by the government that resulted in a groundless decision to relieve Mrs Danna from office in response to her whistle-blowing effort to expose corrupt practices perpetrated in the company.”
The Executive Director CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Rafsanjani stated that the NGO “find it worrisome that the administration’s inconsistency in the protection of whistle-blowers will not only thwart and backpedal the existing achievements, but will also erode citizens’ confidence in the administration with the potential for their subsequent and total detachment from complementing whistle-blowing activities.
“We are worried that rather than giving deserved commendation and reward to Mrs Maryam Danna, the staff concerned, the management resulted in undemocratic move to frustrate and disengage her from the job, as against the promise and policy commitment of the present administration to protect and reward whistle-blowers in all ramifications.
“We demand total demonstration of readiness for the protection and reward for whistle-blowers from victimisation in the country including the staff concerned who is as well a widow that further endorses the extent of her vulnerability in the society.
“We demand immediate restatement and appropriate reward for the staff concerned by the respective authorities without intimidation or victimisation.” the statement further stated.
A labour activist and Abuja-based legal practitioner, Mr Yunus Abdulsalam described the abrupt termination of Mrs Mohammed’s appointment as an act of lawlessness. He said: “In her travails, we find acute lawlessness and impunity in their most banal forms. An employment with statutory flavours like that of Mrs Danna cannot be terminated in any manner that is inconsistent with the provisions of the law.
“It is not a master-servant relationship, which the master has the prerogative to terminate the employment with or without reason. The provision of the public service rules, which enshrined the disciplinary procedures to be followed before terminating an employment of civil servant was flagrantly violated in the case of Mrs Danna.”
He said that the Supreme Court, in several judgments, had ruled that it would be wrong for an employer to terminate the appointment of an employee whose employment has statutory flavour in any manner that violates the provision of the employment contained in the statute. (PRNigeria)
•NDPHC General Manager Audit, Mrs. Maryam Danna Mohammed, whom Buhari ordered reinstated
Source News Express