A controversy is brewing at the presidency over an alleged discountenance of a directive by President Muhammadu Buhari for the reinstatement of a senior official disengaged last year from the Niger Delta Power Holding Company Nigeria Limited, NDPHC.
President Buhari was reported to have directed the Offices of the Vice President, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, and the Chief of Staff, COS, to the President over three months ago to reinstate Maryam Mohammed as the General Manager (Audit and Compliance) in the NDPHC.
Although the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, through a letter of September 7, 2016 conveyed the president’s directive, officials at the presidency have claimed not to be aware of the letter.
Economic Confidential magazine in a report made available to PREMIUM TIMES said Mrs. Mohammed who hails from Borno State was wrongly sacked alongside the former Managing Director and Executive Directors of NDPHC on June 10, 2016 via a letter by the SGF, Babachir Lawal.
Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, is the Chairman of the Board of NDPHC, which is incorporated under the Companies and Allied Matters Act as a private limited liability company.
Members of the board include six governors representing the six geo-political zones in the country and four ministers; namely that of Finance, Power, Petroleum and Justice.
The report said while an aide to Mr. Osinbajo replaced the former Managing Director, Mrs. Mohammed was the only one disengaged out of the 13 General Managers in the agency.
The report also said following a June 28, 2016 letter of appeal, President Buhari asked the Attorney-General to look into the case as well as the law establishing NDPHC and provide a legal opinion.
“The AGF discovered that the disengagement of Mrs. Mohammed was in error because she was a career public officer and not a political appointee or contract staff.
“The President thereafter approved the reinstatement of the official who was erroneously included on the sack list for ‘being a strict auditor’,” the report said.
The AGF’s letter to the SGF said in part: “Please refer to your letter, reference No. SH/COS/03/1/A/15 and our response ref. No. MJ/DSD/SH/22/Vol.1/38 dated September 7 on the above subject matter.
“In this connection, I wish to convey to you Mr. President’s approval vide a meeting with the AGF and Minister of Justice on October 12, 2016 for the reinstatement of the staff (petitioner), Mrs. Maryam Danna Mohammed. Please accept the assurances of my highest esteem.”
The reinstatement letter was sent to the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, and copied to the SGF, Lawal.
However, attempts by PREMIUM TIMES to confirm the presidential directive from Mr. Kyari on Monday were unsuccessful.
He travelled to the UK Sunday morning, his aides said.
Also, efforts to speak with the spokesperson of Mr. Osinbajo, Laolu Akande, were unsuccessful. He did not answer our calls. He also did not respond to two text messages sent to his cell phone.
On his part, the spokesperson of the Office of SGF, Bolaji Adebiyi, told PREMIUM TIMES that the office had not received any correspondence from the Presidency directing that Mrs. Mohammed be reinstated.
“I have checked, there is nothing like that in this office,” he said.
However, findings by the Economic Confidential confirmed that another officer had replaced the disengaged GM.
The report said the last paragraph of the letter of her disengagement had commended and appreciated her service to the nation.
Mrs. Mohammed is a Chartered Account from Borno State and had risen from the position of Auditor at the defunct National Electric Power Authority in 1992 to General Manager, Audit & Compliance at NDPHC in 2011. She has various professional qualifications, including membership of Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Taxation.