By Jaafar Jaafar
The Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawan, have defied President Muhammadu Buhari’s order for the reinstatement of a female General Manager (Audit and Compliance) of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company, NDPHC, Maryam Mohammed.
Mrs Mohammed was arbitrarily sacked as general manager of the NDPHC by the SGF in June last year.
The company, which is not related to Niger Delta as a geo-political zone, was incorporated in 2005 as Special Purpose Vehicle, SPV, for National Integrated Power Projects to address power problem in Nigeria.
Funded with Excess Crude Savings Account in the sum of $8.5 billion, NDPHC has vice president as the chairman of its board, with six governors of the country’s six geo-political zones in the country and ministers of Finance, Power, Petroleum and Justice as members.
Sources said Mrs Mohammed is a “no nonsense auditor” who has become the albatross of contractors and top government officials who use the lucrative agency as their cash cow through execution of bogus contracts.
One of Mrs Mohammed’s major findings of breach of service rule was the discovery that the Executive Director, Engineering & Technical Service of the company, Louis Edozien, neither underwent the mandatory NYSC nor issued exemption certificate.
DAILY NIGERIAN gathered that Mr Edozien, a former staff of UBA and a long-time associate of Mr Kyari, was sacked by the immediate-past administration, following Mrs Mohammed’s discovery.
Credible sources told DAILY NIGERIAN that Mr Kyari later influenced the appointment of Mr Edozien as one of the 18 permanent secretaries sworn in by Mr Buhari on November 10, 2015, after what the administration referred to as “more rigorous selection process” distinct from the past.
Trouble began for Mrs Mohammed when Mr Edozien was posted to Ministry of Power, which supervises NDPHC.
In a letter dated June 10, 2016, with reference number: SGF. 55/S.4/52, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation arbitrarily dismissed her from service without recourse to due process.
“I write to inform you that the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR has, in the exercise of his powers, approved your disengagement as the General Manager (Audit & Compliance) of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company Nigeria Limited with effect from Friday, 10th June, 2016.
“Consequently, you are to hand over the affairs of the Department to the most Senior Officer in the Department.
“While conveying Mr. President’s appreciation to you for your services to the nation during your tenure, may I wish you God’s guidance and best of luck in your future endeavours,” the letter read.
No reason was stated for Mrs Mohammed’s sack, just as no relevant section of civil service rule was quoted in the three-paragraph letter. Among the 13 general managers of the agency, Mrs Mohammed was the only one dismissed.
Being a civil servant not political appointee, Mrs Mohammed protested her abrupt disengagement from service without indicating her offence or recourse to laid down rules governing service disengagement.
When Mrs Mohammed protested her unlawful disengagement from the service of the company to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, the SGF took the matter to the president, who then ordered her immediate reinstatement.
In a letter addressed to the Chief of Staff to the President and copied to the SGF, dated October 21, 2016 with reference number MJ/DSD/SH/22/V.1/39, the Attorney General of the Federation conveyed the president’s approval for Mrs Mohammed’s reinstatement.
“Please refer to your letter reference No.SH/COS/03/1/A/15 dated 1st July, 2016 and our response ref. No.MJ/DSD/SH/22/Vol.1/38 dated 7th September, 2016 on the above subject matter.
“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.”
Three months after the president’s directive, Mrs Mohammed, a chartered accountant, was not reinstated.
When DAILY NIGERIAN contacted the office of the vice president, Mr Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, directed our inquiry to the management of NDPHC.
Efforts to get official response from the NDPHC proved abortive, although a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the management of the agency was yet to receive any directive on her reinstatement.
Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, did not reply a text message sent to him on Friday.