Abuja – A shocking revelation was made on the floor of the Senate on Thursday that about 222 recovered property, comprising exotic houses and hotels, from looters of pension funds by Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina’s Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT) were allegedly shared by officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Emmanuel Paulker, Chairman, Senate committee investigating the botched reinstatement and promotion of Maina made the revelation at plenary.
Paulker, who rose through a point of order to raise the alarm, said Maina handed over to EFCC the houses and hotels before his removal as chairman of PRTT in 2014.
His committee, according to him, got wind of the cornered property from submissions made by some of the invited government officials connected with the botched reinstatement and promotion of Maina.
Consequently, Paulker requested the Senate to expand the scope of his committee’s investigation in unravelling who and who were involved in the sharing of the recovered property.
“For this alarming revelation Sir, this committee requests the Senate to expand the scope of its investigation on Maina by extending it to the management of assets recovered by him and handed over to the EFCC before his removal as chairman, Pension Reform Task Team in 2014 and by so doing extend the duration of the assignment”, he said.
Senate President Bukola Saraki put it to voice vote to which majority of the senators shouted ‘yes’.
Saraki in his remarks said the committee must do everything possible in unravelling those behind the alleged re-looting and report back in four weeks’ time.
“This is a very serious matter and more of large scale corruption going on in a forbidden place. We just hope that it remains at the realm of allegation and not as it is presented”, he said.
Paulker led committee had in the last two weeks had closed door sessions with the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami; Minister of Interior, General Abdulrahaman Dambazzau (rtd.); Mustapha Sulaiman, Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission, among others, on their alleged roles in the aborted reinstatement and promotion of Maina in the federal civil service after three years of disappearance from the public space on alleged mismanagement of pension funds.
Maina was sacked from the civil service in 2014 over corruption.
He was accused of being involved in pension fraud running into over N100 billion.
He was believed to have subsequently fled the country to escape arrest.
In 2015, he was placed on the wanted list of International Police (INTERPOL) by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Three years later, he was said to have been secretly reinstated into the civil service, with promotion, despite being wanted for alleged corruption.
Oyo-Ita, Malami, Danbazzau Deny Approving Maina’s Reinstatement
Thursday was a day of denial at the House of Representatives when supposed principal actors in the Maina saga all denied involvement in the controversial disappearance, re-appearance, reinstatement, and promotion of the embattled former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team.
Explaining their roles in the controversy, Winifred Oyo-Ita, Head of Service of the Federation; Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice; his Interior Counterpart, Abdulrahman Danbazzau, as well as Joseph Oluremi Akande, acting Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission, all denied giving any order for Maina’s reinstatement.
They were present at a hearing on the matter organised by the Aliyu Sani Madaki-led ad-hoc committee as part of its investigations.
The HoS told the panel that she received a letter from the AGF’s office directing that Maina be reinstated based on a subsisting court judgement.
She, however, said that based on the perception that reinstating Maina would have a negative impact on the anti-corruption fight of the Buhari-led administration, she held on to the letter.
“I held on to the letter and without giving any order for reinstatement, the Ministry of Interior decided to reinstate him, which we got to hear in the media.
“I still have the originals of the letters with me, and there was no time I issued any order for Maina’s reinstatement.
“And normally, there is no civil servant that can be reinstated without the express directive of the HoS,” she said.
Asked to state his role in the matter, Abdulrahman Danbazzau, the Interior Minister, simply told the panel that his role as minister was purely policy-oriented, and had nothing to do with reinstatement or promotion of an officer.
“And when I checked the records of his (Maina’s) dismissal in 2013, my predecessor was not involved.
“My role as a minister is on policy matters which relate to agencies under the ministry,” Danbazzau said.
Malami, from whose office all the letters directing Maina’s reinstatement emanated, according to records before the panel, stated that he didn’t issue such letters.
He said the request for Maina’s reinstatement was still a work in progress as at October 5, 2017.
“As at October 5, Maina’s issue before my office was a work in progress, not concluded, and that can be established by my records of minutes as contained in the file,” Malami told lawmakers.
However, in the course of his presentation, he spoke glowingly of how Maina gave useful information to his office which was shared with security agencies, leading to the discovery of billions of looted pension funds and physical assets.
Malami said prominent Nigerians formed a powerful cartel of pension thieves which included members of the National Assembly, part of which, he said, Maina was, before falling out with them.
“Maina has been part of the syndicate, that I have to admit, but later fell apart with the syndicate and ran out of Nigeria due to threats to his life,” he said.
Asked to give particulars of National Assembly members involved in pension fraud, Malami said it was premature for him to give out such information due to the ongoing investigation.
However, Maina’s lawyer, Mohammed Katung, in his testimony before the panel, disclosed that his client was never dismissed as he remained in active service of the government despite his physical absence from the country.
“The issue of his dismissal from service came up on February 12, 2014.
“But I want you to know that even after his purported dismissal, Maina was still working for the government, and there are letters he sent to the then President (Goodluck Jonathan) and other government functionaries which they acknowledged.
“A total of 23 files, as at last month, were sent to Maina for him to treat even as he was absent in his capacity as acting director,” Katung told the panel.
However, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Interior, one Engineer Magaji, who carried out the said reinstatement of Maina was nowhere to be seen at the hearing.
Asked of his whereabouts, Danbazzau told the panel that he went on sick leave and would be back next week.
The post ‘EFCC Officials Corner 222 Houses Recovered By Maina Committee’ appeared first on Independent Nigeria.
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