President Muhammadu Buhari’s order for the reinstatement of General Manager Audit at the Niger Delta Power Holding Limited, NDPHC, Maryam Danna, has not been heeded one year after her illegal sack.
Mrs Danna, a widow from Borno State and award-winning chartered accountant was disengaged in controversial circumstances over her anti-corruption stance.
She had written petitions to the Presidency over the retirement which did not follow due process and President Buhari responded to her plight by ordering her reinstatement.
The immediate past SGF, Babachir Lawal did not effect the President’s directive until his exit from the government on corruption allegations.
On October 25, 2016, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, based on the directive of President Buhari, sent a letter to the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, also from Borno State directing that Mrs Danna 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 said in a letter dated October 25, 2016 addressed to the Chief of Staff to the president.
However, one year after, the directive has not been complied with.
Fingered in the wrongful disengagement of the Mrs Danna are the Offices of Vice President, Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF and Chief of Staff to the President, COS.
Without any query, the then Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, who himself was recently sacked in alleged corruption practices, had issued a letter conveying notification of her disengagement as GM NDPHC with effect from 10th June 2016 while a Special Adviser to Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo 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 Vice President’s aide. He also directed all the Executive Directors to handover immediately to the most senior officers in their respective departments.
Curiously, only Mrs Maryam 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 to appointments into office.
One of her Audit Reports in 2014 exposed anomalies in the credentials of the then Executive Director, Technical Services at NDPHC, Louis Edozien, for presenting neither a discharge nor an exemption certificate from National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) before his appointment.
For that offence, Mr Edozien was removed from the service but he miraculously found his way back as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power, a supervisory organ to NDPHC in November 2015 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 DSS, with the suspicion that highly placed officials in the presidency facilitated the process.
While most media houses in Nigeria have reported her case, some legal practitioners and Non-Governmental Organisations have also lent their voices to the unfair treatment of Mrs Danna.
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, in its statement 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 whistleblowing effort to expose corrupt practice perpetrated in the company.”
The Executive Director CISLAC, Auwal Rafsanjani stated that the NGO “finds 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 potential for their subsequent and total detachment from complementing whistleblowing 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 concluded.
A labour activist and Abuja based legal practitioner, Yunus Abdulsalam described the abrupt termination of Danna’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 judgements, has 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.