Ï Seals off his shopping plaza, houses, firms in Kaduna
Ï NASS begins probe over his illegal reinstatement
Ï Maina speaks from hiding, denies N100bn pension fraud
Olufemi Samuel, Chris Emetoh, Henry Omunu, Tom Okpe, Idu Jude and Myke Uchendu and Oluchi Okoroafor, Abuja
Barely 24 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the sacking of the former chairman of the defunct Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, AbdulRasheed Maina, operatives of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) have traced five more houses to him.
An official of the agency also informed The Daily Times last night that the five houses are located in highbrow areas in Abuja.
The source who sought anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the matter said, “necessary arrangements are being put in place to seize the houses, as we are convinced that the properties were acquired by him through proceeds of crime.”
Another official of the EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Kamal, also disclosed that the operatives of the commission had sealed off four houses and two companies allegedly belonging to Maina.
The affected properties are a two-storey shopping plaza located at 2C Ibrahim Taiwo Road, one storey duplex at Katuru Road and another property at Kawo new extension, all within Kaduna metropolis.
But Maina’s whereabouts have been unknown since he is believed to have fled the country, following the exposure of his infamous action while the EFCC operatives are on his trail with a view to arrest him and bring him to justice.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Monday ordered his sacking and a probe into how he managed to return to service. Sequel to a recommendation by the office of the head of service, the Federal Civil Service Commission dismissed Maina in 2013 for absconding from duty.
He was accused of being involved in pension fraud running into over N100billion.
After an investigation by the Senate joint committee on Public Service and Establishment and State and Local Government Administration, a warrant of arrest was issued against him. The police later declared him wanted while he went into hiding.
He was said to have thereafter fled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The EFCC also declared him wanted, while the INTERPOL issued a worldwide red alert on Maina, based on a request from the anti-graft agency.
But the raging controversy over Maina’s illegal reinstatement has assumed a different dimension as both the Senate and the House of Representatives have begun an investigation into circumstances leading to Maina’s recall into the Ministry of Interior.
The Senate has set up a special Ad-hoc committee to probe the circumstances that led to the return of Maina to the country and his subsequent reinstatement and promotion as director in the federal civil service. Although President Buhari had set up a committee to investigate the development which many have described as an unfortunate burden of corruption but the Senate brought up the matter during its plenary on Tuesday through a point of order raised by Senator Isa Hamman Misau (APC, Bauchi).
Misau, who rose through order 42 of the Senate Order, recounted the issue which he noted was sad development, urged the Senate to not only condemn it but urged it to set up a committee to investigate and determine circumstances surrounding Maina’s return to the country.
He also said that there was the need to know how Maina found his way back into the Federal Civil Service without due process and despite his alleged involvement in corruption cases pertaining to the mismanagement of the pension fund.
While it commended the President for acting promptly by dismissing Maina from the civil service, the Senate said it lacked confidence in the expected outcome of the presidential committee’s report.
Senator Dino Melaya (APC, Kogi West) urged the Senate not to encourage the setting up of panels by President Buhari, noting that similar committees set up in the past have come up with nothing.
Melaye regretted that the president is surrounded by persons of questionable characters who are bent on discrediting his government.
He also took a swipe at the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), whom most senators fingered as responsible for Maina’s reinstatement in the civil service.
Melaye said, “The AGF has abused his office so often, this is pathetic. We should not encourage setting up panels by Mr. President who is surrounded by cankerworms and caterpillars bent on messing him up, enough is enough!” Similarly, Senator Sam Anyanwu (PDP, Imo East), said that the issue must not be swept under the carpet but should be brought to public domain.
He urged the Senate to convene a public hearing where both Maina and the AGF would be present or invite them to plenary. The view was ,however, discarded as the Senate opted to allow the Ad-hoc committee to carry on with the assigned responsibility. Earlier in his contribution to the subject, Senator Atai Idoko (Kogi), advised the Senate not to approach the matter from the surface. He argued that Maina couldn’t have resumed office without the directive of someone.
He said: “Somebody gave the directive, we all know the person that returned Maina and we should not pretend about it. It is the AGF and we all know his antecedent. He keeps writing all manner of letters as if there is no rule of law in this country. “Maina is no news, we should concern ourselves with who wrote the letter that reinstated him, we must contain the acts of Maina, he is very corrupt, the AGF knows this too well and yet he issued that directive.
The confusion he is causing in this country is too much and I think we should call a spade a spade because enough is enough!” Referring the matter to four committees including Public Service and Establishment, Judiciary and Human Rights, Interior and Committee on Anti-corruption, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, urged the committees to work very hard and bring back report within four weeks. Saraki regretted the development, stressing that issue of corruption in the civil service is very disturbing.
In a related development, the House of Representatives on Tuesday said it would investigate the resurfacing, reabsorption and subsequent elevation of the indicted Maina into the federal civil service as an acting director in the Ministry of Interior.
The resolution followed the adoption of the motion sponsored by Hon Jagaba Adams Jagaba, seeking the constitution of an ad hoc committee to carry out the investigation.
Similarly, the House charged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to immediately arrest Maina for prosecution in order to serve as a deterrent to others who might have corrupt tendencies. Commending President Buhari for being pro-active in directing the immediate sacking of Maina from the civil service, the House expressed dismay that someone accused of mismanaging N100 billion police pension funds can find his way back into the civil service.
Moving the motion, Jagaba recalled that Maina was appointed in 2010 but was declared wanted by the EFCC in 2015 after being accused of financial impropriety and after he failed to honour invitations of the National Assembly in relation to the allegations made against him.
Jagaba said, “He (Maina) fled this country to the United Arab Emirates since 2013 to avoid arrest and prosecution. “He was formally sacked from his position as an assistant director in the Ministry of Interior in 2013 by the Goodluck Jonathan administration.” But Jagaba said he was taken aback that Maina not only came back from self-exile but was posted to his former ministry and given double promotion from assistant director to acting director.
Don’t spare anyone, APC tells Buhari Meanwhile, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has advised Buhari not to spare anyone involved in the reinstatement saga of Maina to the Ministry of Interior.
The party described the saga as embarrassing as there is an allegation of financial scandal hanging on him. APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, condemned this act at the party headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday in his reaction.
He said, “We are all shocked like any other person that he could be reinstated. It is almost unbelievable that such thing can happen. However, we are all delighted that President Buhari has taken very decisive punitive action against those that are involved.
“We are also delighted that he has ordered full scale investigation into the circumstances that led to this individual being rein- stated into the public office. We believe, as a party that whoever that was part of this or found to be part of this must face appropriate consequences because it is an embarrassment to the party, government and it is unacceptable”. On whether the party will set up an independent investigation concerning the saga, Bolaji responded: “Why should the party set up an independent investigation team as if it is not our government.
There is no need to set up one because it is our government. The President as the leader of the party is not independent of the party. We have confidence that the President will do what is necessary”. When asked about previous reports on the President’s table that have not been treated and if there is any guarantee he will act on this, Bolaji said: “I cannot comment on this because it is the same President that has taken decisive action on this that still has the other reports. “In his wisdom, he must have a reason and unless we know those reasons, we cannot come to conclusion that he has not acted. We have to be willing to admit that in his judgment, he does not have all the facts because we are not sitting in that chair. We have no doubt in our minds that the President will do what is necessary and do what is right.
“However, he does not have to act because everybody wants him to act. He has to exercise the best judgment at all times. So, if we are satisfied that he is acting in the best interest of the nation, definitely we cannot continue to insinuate that he will shield those people. “He was the one who ordered that the investigation be carried out and he is the one who ordered that the SGF and NIA boss be removed from the office and we have not heard that they have returned to their duties posts. So, action will definitely be taken on them. I think we should just be kind enough and wait for Mr. President to act on that before we come to the conclusion that he has not acted”, he added.
Corruption now a cat with nine lives – Sen Shehu Sani In his own comment, Senator Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna Central), has described corruption as a cat with nine lives, as the country is still in shock over the reinstatement of Maina, five years after absconding from civil service.
Senator Sani, who spoke during a Channels Television programme – Politics Today – on Tuesday, said that the issue on Maina in the few days had dominated public discuss as well as proceedings in the Senate leading the decision for the Senate to put up an investigative committee different from that of the Presidency to enable Nigerians have independent report devoid of anybody’s manipulation.
He said: “You do not forget that the executive and the judiciary are two independent bodies which also work independently. But the reason for the separate committee is to have separate reports, which will remain secret till the whole issues is ascertained and is brought to the public domain.” Further describing the unfolding situation, Sani described the situation as a disjointed case which no Nigerian would believe the characters of the Buhari’s kitchen cabinet members.
He said, “It is a case of man who has morality issue and as you can see, it is also a disjointed case where the people involved are people unbelievably could have done so. Like I said that nothing has changed as expected, I said that corruption has become a cat with nine lives”.
Maina’s action, grand conspiracy against Buhari Also speaking during the programme, a senior lawyer, Mr. Jiti Ogunye, said that Mainagate is sad and sickening. He also described the ugly trend as a grand conspiracy among the people appointed by Mr. President, those that have decided to work for themselves against the aspirations of their employer.
Ogunye said: “He is a serial lawbreaker who has absconded from duty in 2012 and was sacked but has to be reinstated after five years. He defied the EFCC, the immigration, the police as well as all the security agencies around the airports”. According to Ogunye, the conspiracy act is a rectangular conspiracy, which involved the office AGF, the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, and Secretary to the Government of the Federation as well as the Civil Service Commission. He also noted that the trending issue does not call for setting of committees but calls for action on how to uncover those involved in the act and subsequently end the menace.
Maina speaks from hiding, denies involvement in N100bn pension fraud But Maina has denied involvement in the alleged misappropriation of N100billion pension funds, saying that he is being victimized on the grounds that he refused to cooperate with members of the National Assembly and some highly placed government officials to loot the nation’s treasury.
Maina disclosed this on Tuesday during a telephone conversation with the Director of Human Rights Radio, Dr. Ahmed Isah, who spoke with Maina in the presence of some pensioners at the Unity Fountain, Abuja. Isah is the anchor man of popular radio programme- Berekete from the Human Rights Radio station in Abuja.
Maina, who spoke from hiding, denied taking any money from the pension fund, saying he was being persecuted because he refused to compromise. He said, “The reason is because I refuse to bend backwards. I want Nigeria people to know that nobody have ever given me budget of N10. If there is anybody, National Assembly, or any body from finance that has ever given me N10 let then show Nigerians that this is the money that was appropriated to the task team or to Maina to handle. “Instead it is me and my team that recovered N250million.
That money, the minister of finance took the money and put it in CBN. The then Minister of Finance is Ngozi Okonjo Iweala and she is alive. The present Emir of Kano was the CBN governor. I was not a signatory to that account. The former account general, chief auditor and minister of finance, these three are the signatories to the account. On the issue of police pension reforms, he said, “My team wanted to restructure the police pension.
We went to Inspector General of Police office and we found out that they are taking N300million from the account every morning and we reported to the minister of finance and I said there is one account that you approve N24billion for the payment of police pension arrears but this money has not been used to pay police pensioners. “They are removing N300million daily and these are the people who have been removing the money and matter was referred to the EFCC for verification and ICPC for investigation. “The second thing is they were given police pension N1.5billion every month as monthly pension and we find out that the actual amount was N488million.
That means they have been stealing that N1billion every month for so long. He also claimed that he introduced biometrics to block the illegal capital flights. His words, “We went and did biometric exercise; this biometric was approved by the Head of service.
We were blocking leakages in government, we were able to save the government billions of naira, we were able to create e- pension management system where all this N1billion were spent on verification that some pension were dying, and it should stop. “We created the e-pension system and we gave pensioners an e- smart card so that pensioners will go and verify himself at his own time and government is going to save about N4billion, it is only police pension that I am telling you.”
Regarding the reforms introduced at the Head of Service, he said, “Coming back to Head of Service pension, we came and did biometrics. We found out that in the Head of Service payroll was N5.152billion every month but the actual was N825million.
So, why should Maina go and tell Minister to stop sending N5billion. That was my crime because this money was being shared all over.”