Maina Dambazau has nothing to answer for in scandal, says Perm Sec

Magaji said Dambazau played no role in the scandal as he neither saw nor received any mail in the process.

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Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau play

Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau

(OrderPaper)
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The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior, Abubakar Magaji, has revealed that the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, does not have any case to answer in the reinstatement scandal of fugitive, Abdulrasheed Maina.

While appearing before a Senate ad-hoc committee set up to probe the controversial recall of the former pensions reform chief on Wednesday, November 9, 2017, Magaji told lawmakers that Dambazau played no role in the scandal as he neither saw nor received any mail in the process.

In the wake of the controversy, the minister had issued a press statement to deny any involvement in the scandal and also had a private meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on November 2, reportedly to discuss his connection to it.

Maina scandal

Maina was recalled and promoted after he had been dismissed by the Federal Civil Service Commission in 2013 following a recommendation by the Office of the Head of Service.

In 2015, he was charged alongside former Head of Service, Steve Oronsaye, Osarenkhoe Afe and Fredrick Hamilton Global Services Limited before a Federal High Court on a 24-count charge bordering on procurement fraud and obtaining by false pretence through the award of fraudulent biometric contracts.

Ex pension boss, Abdulrasheed Maina play

Ex pension boss, Abdulrasheed Maina

(Premium Times)

After he was declared wanted over an alleged N2 billion pension fraud, he evaded capture from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and fled abroad.

Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, Head of Service, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita, and Dambazau were reportedly instrumental to the process of Maina's recall.

Magaji's testimony

However, Magaji assured the committee that he was in a better position to be questioned on the matter as Dambazau is completely out of the loop on such ministry matters.

He said,  "In a ministry, there are responsibilities. The minister is in charge of policy direction while the permanent secretary's office is in charge of establishment matters, which we are discussing today; and all correspondences to the ministry were sent to perm sec directly and not to the minister.

"The minister has not seen a single mail related to Maina in his office or directed any action other than the perm sec's office. That's why I feel I should be here to assist even though I wasn't in the ministry when this thing happened."

Despite his attempts to stand in for Dambazau, the committee rejected his request and demanded the appearance of the minister himself who was unable to make Wednesday's hearing as he was presenting a memo at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa.

The committee, chaired by Senator Emmanuel Paulker, told Magaji that Dambazau has to appear before the panel because of his position as the political head of the ministry.

A member of the panel, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, said, "It is good that you were invited in person as the permanent secretary of the ministry but first of all, we have to deal with the minister. Most of the things involved are not just about the bureaucratic activities of the ministry; they are political."

Fallout of Maina scandal

After his reinstatement drew public condemnation, President Buhari ordered Maina's 'disengagement' from service and ordered a full investigation into the circumstances of his recall.

ALSO READ: Maina: Dambazau missing from FEC meeting

The Senate and House of Representatives also set up separate ad-hoc committees to investigate the issue.

The committee set up by the Senate comprises the chairmen and vice-chairmen of the Senate Anti-Corruption Committee, the Judiciary Committee, the Committee on Interior and the Public Service Establishment Committee.

Officials of the Federal Civil Service Commission

The committee has been charged with uncovering how Maina was reinstated into public service and how he got promoted to the level of director.

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