By Job Osazuwa
Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Shehu Abubakar Malami (SAN), has revealed the existence of over 66 accounts allegedly operated by an unnamed pensions’ fraud syndicate.
This comes amid growing criticism that has rocked the Buhari-led administration following the reinstatement of an embattled former chairman of the Presidential Taskforce on Pension’s Reforms, Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina.
Many have said the controversy surrounding Maina’s return and promotion to the position of director of the Federal Civil Service has put a question mark on the Federal Government’s commitment in the fight against corruption.
Malami disclosed this on a Lagos-based television programme last Thursday.
“Over 66 accounts were used in pension fraud-associated transactions.There exists 12 pending court cases that are related to the pension fund fraud. Investigations have been ongoing overtime and serious recoveries, involving about 270 or more assets, involving house and automobiles were recovered.
“There is a very strong allegation that about 217,000 ghost pensioners exist within the system. And, you are equally aware that high profile individuals, inclusive of political office holders, senior civil servants, the military, the police are equally alleged to be part of the syndicate relating to pension.”
The Justice Minister also explained that the reinstatement of the embattled former pensions’ boss was an idea conceived by his (Maina’s) lawyers and brought to his office. “As at October 5, 2017, an issue relating to the reinstatement of Abdulrasheed Maina was an issue that was in the process in the Office of the Attorney-General relating to a request that was made by his lawyers sometime back in April.
“Arriving at a decision like this, some legal processes come into play. The first process was a judgment presented by his lawyer on account of which he had sought the intervention of the Attorney General for his reinstatement.
“And, in the first process, thereafter, was a request from the office of the public service of the Federation, seeking information to certain inquiries that were met and, thereafter, there was equally a factor relating to a pending court case in the National Industrial Court in respect of which you equally have to factor in mind before arriving at a decision.”
Malami further said the process was yet to be concluded in his office. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) declared Maina wanted for alleged N2 billion pensions biometric scam in November 2015, in a 24-count bordering on procurement fraud and obtaining money under false pretense.
Maina subsequently disappeared until October 2017, to take charge as acting director in the Ministry of Interior. His return sparked outrage nationwide.
Consequently, Buhari sacked Maina on October 23 and ordered the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita to investigate his reinstatement. She has since submitted a report to the president, wherein she distanced herself from his reinstatement.
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