A Federal High Court yesterday deferred judgment till Tuesday next week in the suit filed by the embattled Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Force Team, Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina seeking to set aside the warrant of arrest declared against him by the police.
Justice Adamu Bello told parties yesterday that the judgment would not be ready till Tuesday next week. But while the court was in session, coalitions of civil society groups were protesting outside over alleged harassment of Maina by the Senate.
Maina in the suit wants an order of the court setting aside the warrant of arrest issued at the instance of the Senate by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Muhammed Abubakar against him on February 2, following a resolution by the Senate. He is also praying the court to quash the purported report of the Senate committee's resolutions that led to the issuance of the bench warrant, as the action violated his fundamental rights as guaranteed under Section 35(1) of the 1999 Constitution.
Maina is further praying the court to restrain the Senate from interfering with his official duties and from inviting him having completed and submitted their report without giving him fair hearing. He is also asking for N100 billion as exemplary damages and N500,000, as general damages.
The respondents in the suit are, the Senate president, the Senate, clerk of the Senate, the Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service and its Chairman, Senator Aloysius Etok and the Senate Committee on State and Local Government Administration and its Chairman, Kabiru Gaya.
Meanwhile, a coalition of civil society groups yesterday in Abuja asked President Goodluck Jonathan to protect the Chairman of the defunct Presidential Task Force on Pension Reform, Abdulrasheed Maina from undue harassment, molestation and intimidation by security agents and the Senate.
The groups, operating under the aegis of Civil Society Action Coalition (CSAC) asked those who had axe to grind with Maina to approach the court in a civilised manner instead of employing the instrument of coercion and intimidation to settle scores.
Displaying various placards with different inscriptions, the leadership of the CSAC berated the Senate for taking undue advantage of its position to witch-hunt and instigate the instrumentality of oppression against Maina over un-resolved pension fund matter.
At the Federal High Court in Abuja where the group staged a peaceful protest against the Senate on its stand on Maina, its leaders asked the National Assembly members to remember that Maina’s task force recovered over N250 billion from pension thieves in the system.
The convener of the protest, Abdul Mahmud, in a statement made available to newsmen called on patriotic Nigerians to look at Maina's travails beyond claims of corruption levelled against him by the Senate and locate the basis of the harassments and hounding within the context of the war that corruption waged against those who fight it.
"For those who doubt the legacies of Maina, we can only ask them to cast their minds back to where we were four years ago. We can also ask them to remember that senior citizens of our country, otherwise known as pensioners no longer die on the endless verification queues designed by the syndicate of thieves.
"Today, senior citizens receive their pension as at when due and paid directly into their various bank accounts as put in place by the Maina task force on pension reform," the statement added.
Mahmud told newsmen that Maina, in the discharge of his national assignment, had shown tremendous capacity for doing what was right and working for the good of the Nigerian public and appealed that those aggrieved over Maina’s action should stop vilifying and instigating his arrest for no just cause.
Also speaking at the rally, the Chairman of the Arewa Integrity Groups (AIG), Abdulahi Ladan dismissed the condemnation of Maina by the Senate, adding that the condemnation had no basis because Maina used his clout to recover over N250 billion that would have gone down the drain.
Ladan told newsmen that the Senate allegation that N195 billion could not be accounted for by Maina’s task force was spurious, baseless and unwarranted because the period of 2004, 2009 when the money was allegedly released by the Federal Government to pension fund was not part of the period verified by Maina's task force. The AIG leader condemned the withdrawal of security aides from Maina at the instance of the Senate and called on the Federal Government to restore the security aides to him to enable him come back to public life.
Some inscriptions on the placards of the protesters read "Senate, please, leave Maina alone", "Senate, please, go for pension thieves and leave the pension task force alone." Other inscriptions were: "President Goodluck Jonathan, please protect Maina from intimidation", "Stop the attack on Maina" and "Stop the persecution of Maina."