From Fred Itua, Abuja
Barely one week after they were barred from covering the maiden sitting of the Senate ad hoc committee set up to investigate circumstances surrounding the return of former chairman of a presidential pensions task force committee, Abdulrasheed Maina, to the country and how he was absorbed into the civil service, as a director, lawmakers, again, sent newsmen out of the hearing room, yesterday.
The Senate probe was held behind closed doors.
Newsmen covering the Senate had converged on Room 221 in the new Senate building, venue of the hearing, to report proceedings of the appearance of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Shehu Malami, when they were sent out by the committee chairman, Senator Emmanuel Paulker.
The AGF was billed to appear before the committee on November 8 but sought permission to appear, yesterday. Paulker hailed the AGF for appearing before the committee, to present his side of the case, on alleged involvement in the Maina reinstatement saga.
Paulker said the committee was mandated by the Senate to carry out the investigation, following a motion by Senator Isah Misau.
“Senate had mandated chairmen and vice chairmen of four committees to look into the matter and that is why we are here.
“Prior to this time, there was information circulating in the media regarding this issue but, we will not want to be guided by those information.
“That is why we do not want our meeting to be in the public domain until we come up with our findings,’’ he said.
Paulker pointed out that Senate is not “witch-hunting anybody,” and added that it is only carrying out its constitutional responsibility.
He also said the committee would be guided by the information gathered in the course of the investigation.
“We will call the media at the end of the investigation.
“For now we will go into a close-door session so that we will not be swapping between ‘I said this,’ ‘I did not say this.’ Although the Nigerian media is so matured, I am not saying they will misquote us,’’ he added.
Paulker also said the committee would work to unravel the circumstances surrounding Maina’s return.
Thereafter, the committee went into a closed session with Malami.