Open Letter To His Excellency, Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso Of Kano State By Bashir Abba Sharif
“As an indispensible means of locating responsibility and fixing accountability, the Principles of Separation of Power, checks and balances as well as Continuum were embedded in all forms of democratic governments, institutions and complex organizations essentially to safeguard good and corporate governance, as the case may be. The wisdom being that, an official or organ, unambiguously charged with responsibility to execute statutory or policy decision at any level, can be held liable for performance or otherwise. However, where that clear line of distinction is blurred, abused, undermined or even ignored, liberty, as expressed in the Fundamental Human Rights, and public interests are in jeopardy and a culture of impunity, wittingly or unwittingly, institutionalized”- Aristotle.
Against the aforementioned background, I wish to most respectfully crave the indulgence of His Excellency, the Executive Governor and life hero of democracy, to understand and reason with my recapitulation, herein, on Suit N0 K/465/2000: High Court Judgment and its Contempt. By intent, it is to comprehensively bring the impunity involved into proper perspective with the ardent hope that, given the implications, appropriate remedies would be applied by the Executive Governor.
Your Excellency Sir, given my disposition, admiration, commitment and indeed absolute loyalty to the administration, I would not have ventured into this communication had I any inkling that, beyond the official endorsement of the acknowledgment copies, my previous correspondences were truly seen and action taken, one way or the other, by His Excellency. It is therefore, I reassure, out of absolute necessity that it becomes absolutely imperative for me to open up again, in this manner.
It could be recalled that, in a judgment delivered on 5th July, 2002, a Kano High Court ruled that my purported dismissal from service is null, void, unconstitutional and unfair as well as contrary to natural justice and therefore ordered the State Civil Service Commission and Government to reinstate and restore me in my employment and rank prior to the purported dismissal and also to pay all salary and other entitlements from the date of my suspension. Having carefully studied the judgment, the Ministry of Justice, vide letter SMOJ/66/176 dated 29th July 2002, proffered to the Head of Service the following options for consideration:
That the State could appeal against the decision and pursuant to that, motions for stay of execution were filed before the courts.
The state could negotiate “where it is desirous of disposing the matter with speed or where at a later stage it becomes glaring that the state is unlikely to succeed in the appeal” and
Where the two options fail, the State could simply comply with the judgment.
Ruling on the motion for stay of execution on 14th October, 2002, the Court decided to order as follows;
That the declaratory order as to wrongful dismissal cannot be stayed and is subsisting and binding until it is set aside on appeal.
That the order as to payment of arrears of salary and allowances plus reinstatement can only be stayed to allow the appellant to prepare and transmit the Record of Appeal to Court of appeal Kaduna within 30 days.
That if the Appellant can not to prepare and transmit the Record of Appeal to Court of Appeal Kaduna within the allowed 30 days, they shall be required to comply with the first order of salary and allowances plus reinstatement with immediate effect or else execution may be levied on their properties.
Your Excellency Sir, after the allowed legal latitude had been exhausted without any interest from the government to appeal the judgment, I and Abdulmumini A. Yelwa drew the attention of the former Head of Service and the Civil Service Commission, in our joint letter dated 16th June, 2003, to the consequences of their inaction pertaining to the subsisting Court Order and urged that the judgment be complied with in line with the rule of law.
As if awaken from slumber of a sort, the then Chief Civil Servant, Rabiu Zakariya, by a letter HCS/ADM/S/161/1/197 of 10th July, 2003, informed us that the Government had requested the Ministry of Justice “to take all necessary urgent steps to appeal soonest”.
Surprisingly however, eight months after the appeal gambit commitment, the Ministry of Justice did not take the so wished “urgent steps to appeal”. Rather, the Head of Service was apparently, all through, clandestinely “mixing cards” to frustrate compliance with the judgment. Hence, conscious of its responsibilities and obligations, the Civil Service Commission, then headed by the epitome of justice and integrity, Malam Shehu Minjibir, in a letter KSC/736/32 of 16th February, 2004, intimated the former Governor that during its meeting held on Thursday, 12th February, 2004, the Commission had extensively deliberated on the protracted case involving me and Abdulmumini Yelwa and observed that “nothing had been initiated from the Government by way of filing any appeal against the 2002 judgmnt and therefore any action to be taken by the Commission contrary to the court`s ruling will be regarded as contempt of Court. In the light of the foregoing and in line with the cardinal principles of equity, justice and fairness”, the letter continued, “the Commission had accordingly resolved and decided to reinstate the two former officers into their employments and rank prior to their dismissal from the service in 1999”, concluding that “this decision becomes absolutely imperative as it has no any other alternative than complying with the court`s ruling on the case.”
With the consent of the former Governor, conveyed vide letter SSG/AGS/S/A/81/V/421 dated 5thMarch, 2004, the Commission informed the Head of Service and the Commissioner of Finance that it has stood by, endorsed the court`s ruling and accordingly reinstated us with effect from 1999, by letter KSC/376/42 dated 11th March, 2004.
Unknown to the Commission, the Head of Service had a hidden agenda that “whatever decision the Civil Service Commission may stand for, the reinstatement will be strategically frustrated until, with time, I am either pauperized to the last or my demise and therefore in no position to enjoy the fruit of the judgment. And putting the strategy into force, on 15th March, 2004, the former Head of Service, Rabiu Zakariya, personally scripted an anonymous petition to the erstwhile Governor, Ibrahim Shekarau, against the decision and by extension, the High Court judgment that he was unable to appeal.
Sir, apart from making seriously spurious, malicious, unfounded, uncouth, and unethical fabrications against the judiciary and the Civil Service Commission, the profoundly self-contradictory petition ended up saying we were purportedly reinstated by the PDP appointed Commission because of my support to the then opposition Party. It then advised the Government to get the Commission to rescind its decision and, if it refused to succumb, disband it, the safety valves and legal encumbrances notwithstanding.
Because they shared many things in common, the former Governor accepted the anonymous petition, as if the whimsical wish of the author was anything solemn. Consequently, on the Executive discretion of the former Governor, not a resolution of the State Executive Council, the Head of Service and the Commission were, by letter N0 SSG/AGS/R/13/243, dated 18th March, 2004, requested to comment on the petition. It is worthy to note that, the High Court Judges that ruled we be reinstated unconditionally were not asked to comment. The Ministry of Justice, that could have determined the legitimacy or otherwise of the judgment, its endorsement by the Commission and the petition itself were equally not involved because, long before, it had not only recognized the validity and legality of the judgment but also legally advised the Government to “simply comply” in its letter SMOJ/66/176 dated 29th July, 2002.
Rightly or wrongly, the chosen two obliged; while the Commission, in a 16-paragraph Report, dated 26th March, 2004 elaborated, justified, cautioned on and defended its decisions and actions, the former Chief Civil Servant, in a letter HCS/ADM/S/161/VOL.1/262, dated 19th April, 2004, breached the oath of office by absurdly recommending the setting up of a committee by the Cabinet Office to “chart a way forward for the disposal of the case”, instead of applying the provisions of the extant laws and civil service rules to dismiss the petition. Moreover, the Standing Personnel Management Board that the Scheme of Service, Civil Service Rules and Guidelines recognize and charge with the exclusive responsibility to handle petitions was circumvented, sidelined and avoided. Indeed, he strategically but unlawfully, opted and recommended for a committee, an alien contraption in the Service, to be chaired by the former Secretary to the State Government, along with the then Chairmen of the Nigeria Labour Congress and Civil Service Union, Adviser to the Governor on Labour Matters, Maishanu, with whose active collaboration the anonymous petition was scripted, and other vulnerable cronies, willing to drop any baton of truth, as members. The Man Friday knew that, were the Standing Personnel Management Board to be involved, his footprints to the anonymous petition would be traced and the petition itself dismissed for not meeting minimal legitimacy requirement.
Not bothered with service rules and regulations, the former Chief Executive accepted these recommendations hook, line and sinker while the Report of the Civil Service Commission was disregarded, if at all it was looked into. The Committee was constituted, with Abdulkarim Hassan as Chairman.
Your Excellency Sir, throughout its discreet “deliberations”, between April 2004 and July 2005, the Committee did not find it proper, appropriate, fair and just to summon the High Court Judges responsible for the judgments, the Civil Service Commission, that the petitioners claimed to have acted on the basis of political interest and my good self, accused to be a supporter of the PDP, to either testify or defend positions, in line with the Right of Defense, guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Civil Service Rules. In the same vein, the petitioners, concerned as they were claimed to be, were neither invited nor sought to be, in order to shed the necessary light on the seriousness of the issues they raised. Factually speaking, not a single person was invited to help the Committee, constituted in the words of Abdulkarim Hassan, “at the instance of an anonymous communication received on the purported re-instatement of some dismissed officers into the Service”.
It is pertinent to raise fingers here that, for the former Secretary to the State Government and chairman of the Committee:
- Civil Service Rule12204 stipulates that a petition must be submitted through the proper channel.
- Civil Service Rule 12206 that a petition must bear the full names of the petitioner, staff number, signature and address of the petitioner. When written by a person other than the petitioner, the signature and address of the writer must be included.
3.Civil Service Rule 12208 (a) A petition which; (i) does not comply with rule 12206, (ii) deals with a case in which legal action is pending in a court of law, (iii) is illegible or meaningless (iv) is worded in abusive; improper, or foul language (v) is anonymous, SHALL NOT BE ENTERTAINED, is a hoax.
Your Excellency Sir, one interesting but nauseating phenomenon that emerged from this Committee was the unhindered orchestration of the notion of “purported reinstatement” initiated by the anonymous petitioners, that only the former Head of Service microscopically identified, justified and accepted as “concerned civil servants” for the former Governor to confer legitimacy and finally seal as the gospel truth by a cabinet Committee, at the expense of public interest, integrity of our statutory institutions, and natural course of justice. At the end of the whole hullabaloo, the Committee resolved that the Civil Service Commission be directed, in breach of Section 202 of the Constitution of Nigeria (1999), to lure me into renouncing the judgment, as captured in the minutes of its meeting held on Thursday 10th June 2004, in the Office of the Secretary to the State Government.
However, when the Commission declined to be associated with or succumbed to this infamy, on the ground that it had no power to act so, it was prematurely disbanded, as suggested long before by the “concerned civil servants”. And, paradoxically, before the appointment of a new Commission, Rabiu Zakariya had capitalized on the vacuum created to usurp the powers and functions that he could never have had to purportedly retire me compulsorily and retrospectively but reinstated, restored back into service, promoted to grade level 16 and paid Abdulmumini Ahmed Yelwa every kobo of salary and other entitlement arrears, including those pertaining to Rago and Gero.
Up in defense of Government, democracy, the Civil Service Institution, colleagues and to-be civil servants, the Judiciary as well as my Fundamental Rights, I petitioned the former Governor against this cocktail of impunity, abuse of office, inequity, injustice, contempt of court, excessive breach of the rule of law, arbitrary and tyrannical acts, squarely orchestrated by the former Head of Service in particular, and executed by or in the name of the government that he was the Chief Executive of.
In the petition, I drew the attention of the former Governor that, no matter the circumstances, the government cannot retire whom it has not reinstated in the first place. By the four limbs judgment, the Civil Service Commission is to (1) reinstate only while the government, as the Principle of Separation of Power dictates, is to (2) restore me into employment, (3) restore me to my rank and (4) pay to me arrears of salary and allowances with effect from April 1999.
Your Excellency Sir, I also expatiated that, because I was never recalled back, allocated office and assigned duties, no one could have the temerity to say the government had restored me to service/employment. Similarly, by the dictates of the judgment, to restore me into my rank entails that I be paid salary on reinstatement in March, 2004. Lastly, I explained that, according to the judgment, the government was to calculate all salary and allowances that I would have received and paid as soon as possible but for the purported dismissal. Not affecting all of these limbs of the judgment translates into my not being reinstated and leaves the government in contempt of the court.
I conceded that, the Government could retire any civil servant it wants to dispose off in the same way that any civil servant could decide to leave if he so wishes. However, I pointed out that, the Government ought to know that all relevant laws and rules as well as the demand of natural justice do not give it the right to retire without notifying the officer concerned reasons on the ground of which the action is contemplated or executed. On this premise, I challenged the Government, its organs or functionaries, including the former Head of Service, Rabiu Zakariya, to come up with any evidence that I was notified of the reasons on the ground of which the purported retirement was anchored. To date that has not been done.
Furthermore, according to the Civil Service Rules, compulsory retirement is punitive, such that it cannot be visited on any civil servant except if there is indictment. For all that I know, with the Government being in contempt because it refused to recall me, let alone honour the other related obligations, there could not have been any act of commission or omission on my part to warrant such action by the government. In addition, the effective date of the purported retirement also breached all norms, practices and laws in the service. Since there is nothing like “retrospective effect” in the service, its purported application on me is both ridiculous and a misnomer; on what basis was the year 2004 adopted? What offence did I commit in that year or even before?
By no means in a position to hold brief for the two statutory institutions, I ventured into a safe risk to draw the attention of the former Governor that, the High Court that decided and delivered the judgment and the quasi-judicial Civil Service Commission that endorsed and complied with same, cannot by themselves reverse their decisions as neither could have had the power to approbate and reprobate. How the legal minds in the government lost their voices for complicity of silence, when this persecution was perfected, beats civilized imagination. By the least, one expected them, if at all their opinion was ever sought, to tell the Government that, judgments delivered by a court of competent jurisdiction can only be reversed at appeal, an option, in this case, now out of question because the legal latitude to initiate it has lapsed and its possibility demobilized by the selective reinstatement of Abdulmumini A. Yelwa.
Your Excellency Sir, what emerged from the sad and inconceivable purported compulsory retirement include, but not limited to, absolute impunity, abuse of office, injustice, court contempt and deprivation of intensive and extensive proportion and consequences to my family as well as uncertainty for those yet unborn. Specifically, I pointed out that, the purported compulsory retirement has set the Government against itself as it transformed what started as Bashir Abba Sharif vs Kano State Government and Civil Service Commission to Judiciary and Civil Service Commission vs Kano State Government. Subject of this unwarranted fiasco being that, the judiciary and the Commission, on one hand, did what they believe to be right and within their exclusive constitutional obligation, functions and responsibilities and the Government, on the other hand, contesting their rights to do that, with posterity to adjudicate, curving my humble self out as the “grass”, victim of Executive lawlessness.
In conclusion, I inveigled the former Governor to reason with justice, fairness and good governance and exercise the same Executive fiat to save the Government from the embarrassment enforcing the judgment by other means, very much legal, could provoke. On the alternative, because I will continue to pursue justice for as long as I live and can, I persuaded the setting up of a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to investigate the substantive issue and extent of commission or omission on the part of any functionary.
To be fair to the former Chief Executive, a semblance with the second option was opted for. On 3rd July, 2006, the petition was forwarded to Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Directorate to investigate. In July, 2007, the Directorate submitted its Report with the polite recommendations that (a) “the office of the Head of Service should, as a matter of fact, reinstate the officer back into service as ordered by the Court and all issues relating to his salary and other entitlements be addressed and paid to him accordingly with effect from 16th April 1999” and (b) “the office of the Head of Service should withdraw the letter of compulsory retirement dated 28th July, 2005, given to the officer. He should be allowed to retire voluntarily if he so wishes. Any action short of complying with the terms of the Judgment is contempt of court. Therefore the office of Head of Service should avoid the embarrassment of any contempt proceeding that may be initiated against it by the petitioner”.
Sir, although the Directorate has located the responsibility and fixed accountability for the infamy that the former administration coined compulsory retirement, the former Governor refused to apply the required consequences and consigned its Report to dustbin, as done before in respect of the Civil Service Commission Report, in breach of the obligations and responsibilities of the exalted office he occupied.
By no means subdued to abandon hope for justice, I remained persistent with series of reminders; each at an interval of six months, up to the twilight of the eight-year long tenure, thinking that good conscience was universal, particularly among Muslims. In my last reminder, dated 16th April, 2011, when the disposition of the administration to remain in contempt appeared sealed, I intimated the former Governor of my intention to persevere more until a just regime comes on board to respect the Will of Subhanahu Wataala, and resolve the lingering but strange impasse.
Not long after, in April, same year to be precise, Your Excellency was overwhelmingly elected as the Executive Governor, for the second time.
Your Excellency Sir, from 15th June 2011 to date, on the basis of the Principle of Continuum in government, the commitment of the administration to the principles of rule of law, equity, justice, along with your personal compassion and care to rescue any citizen from any travail, I wrote a total of ten reminder letters, this being the eleventh, urging the strong to use strength to uphold justice and reinstate me back into the service in line with the judgment delivered by a high court of competent jurisdiction. Up till now, none of these letters was reacted to or the reinstatement conveyed, to the utter surprise of public consensus.
If the former administration or its functionaries were the main chaperons of the blind quest to decapitate my hope and ambition for a dignified future, I would not expect this administration to be in its lockstep because neither His Excellency nor the Civil Service will have anything to benefit from the purported compulsory retirement. But while there is no iota of doubt that I, along with my long deprived children, will benefit from compliance with the judgment, the Government, His Excellency, the Executive Governor and the Millennium struggle championed as well as public interest will perhaps benefit much more ultimately.
Because, for an ordinary citizen like my humble self, there is no better way to support Government than to demand that it does the right thing, I am by this reminder urging His Excellency to remove the glass ceiling to justice, equity, rule of law and good governance, so that the government can truly be seen as democratic, to initiate compliance with the judgment and reinstate me back into the service, restore my rank and pay all salary arrears due to me with effect from April 1999 in line with the subsisting judgment.
BASHIR ABBA SHARIF
N0 1, SOKOTO ROAD, KANO.
11th November, 2014.
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