Full story of the 'pension thief' who served in Buhari's government
Abdulrasheed Maina has just been fired by President Muhammadu Buhari. Here's how it came to this.
In 2013, Maina was Chairman of the Presidential Task Team on Pension Reforms (PTTPR) when he was accused of theft to the tune of N2B in the office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.
Maina was subsequently dismissed by the Federal Civil Service Commission following recommendation by the Office of the Head of Service.
According to the allegation lodged by the senate at the time, Maina had defrauded civil servants of their pensions and had diverted pension funds totaling N2B into his personal bank accounts.
Soon after the senate issued an arrest warrant for Maina, the man allegedly fled to Saudi Arabia to evade law enforcement back home.
In July of 2015, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) charged Maina alongside a former Head of Service, Steve Oronsaye, Osarenkhoe Afe and Fredrick Hamilton B Global Services Limited before a Federal High Court on a 24-count charge bordering on procurement fraud and obtaining by false pretense.
In November of 2015, EFCC declared Maina a wanted man and launched a manhunt for the former chairman of the PTTPR.
According to multiple reports, Maina often sneaked back into Nigeria between 2013 and 2015 and was often on the run.
The EFCC said Maina had remained at large. He also shunned court summons as the EFCC and police officers scoured the planet for him.
In June of 2016, Maina announced that he had been cleared by the senate of an alleged N195B theft.
Maina said the senate had discovered that the 'missing' N195B is in the government’s coffers.
He also asked for an apology from the nation and from the national assembly.
“I was singled out and I suffered so much as a result of the false allegation,” Maina said.
He added that; “it is really sad that the same man ( chairman of the senate committee), who told the whole world that I stole N195B has come out to say that the money is intact in Buhari’s TSA account in the CBN. He must pay for destroying my character, integrity and the loss of my job. I was being haunted all around, and people who had confidence in me thought otherwise of me”.
Maina decried that he had been “maligned, shot at, psychologically traumatized, denied my due entitlement, hounded for serving my country diligently. If this is the reward for serving one’s country, I fear for Nigeria because it would be hard for people to serve this country”.
And then he disappeared again.
On Friday, October 20, 2017, online newspaper Premium Times reported that Maina had returned to the government’s payroll.
According to the story; “Mr. Maina, who is wanted by the anti-graft agency, EFCC, was secretly recalled and promoted to the position of Director in charge of Human Resources in the Ministry of Interior.
“Before his appointment to chair the pension task force, Mr. Maina was an Assistant Director in the ministry”.
On Sunday, October 22, 2017, Interior Minister Abdulrahman Dambazau admitted that Maina is now back in the federal civil service.
Dambazau however washed his hands off Maina’s re-instatement and blamed the office of the Head of Service for the man's re-emergence in government circles.
“The attention of the Honorable Minister of Interior, Lt Gen (Rtd) Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau, has been drawn to a report on the recall of the wanted pension boss sacked for alleged corruption”, read a statement from the interior minister’s office signed by the press secretary to the Honorable Minister of Interior, Ehisienmen Osaigbovo.
Dambazau who said he wasn’t behind Maina’s reinstatement added that the “ex-Chairman of the Presidential Task Force Team on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina was posted few days ago to the Ministry of Interior by the office of the Head of Service on an Acting capacity to fill a vacancy created following the retirement of the Director heading the Human Resources Department in the Ministry.
“For the avoidance of doubt, issues relating to discipline, employment, re-engagement, posting, promotion and retirements of federal civil servants are the responsibility of the federal civil service commission and office of the Head of Service of the Federation, of which no Minister exercises such powers as erroneously expressed in the publication.
“It is understood that Maina’s last posting was with the Ministry of Interior and that is probably why he was re-posted back to the Ministry.
“It is therefore improper for anybody to think that a minister could exercise such powers or influence the process of discipline, re-engagement, and deployment of any civil servant to his ministry or any other ministry for that matter.
“Again, such responsibility is that of the Federal Civil Service Commission and/or the Head of Civil Service".
Maina’s recall to the federal civil service had been described as an embarrassment for the Muhammadu Buhari administration and a setback for the administration's much vaunted war against widespread corruption.
Buhari won the 2015 election mainly on the back of a promise to tackle corruption and endemic graft in government operations.
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The president’s anti-corruption adviser, Prof Itse Sagay, says Maina should be arrested without further delay.
“This man was accused of embezzling billions of naira meant for pensioners who had spent all their lives serving this country. One man took the money they should rely on in their declining years, subjecting them to misery and hopelessness.
“This is a moral and criminal issue. So, to hear that the man is in the country and somebody employed him means he is not the only criminal in the system. It means there is an accessory.
“Whoever was involved in employing him and then giving him promotion is an accessory after the fact to the crimes committed by this man if it is established that he is culpable. I don’t see why he escaped if he was not guilty.
“The EFCC should not just say they are aware; they should take action. The EFCC should now arrest him, interrogate him and if they can establish a case, prosecute him. They should also investigate all those in the reabsorbing and promotion of this man”.
Human Rights lawyer, Femi Falana told Punch newspaper that the EFCC has a duty to immediately prosecute Maina.
“Maina was declared wanted by the EFCC because of his indictment in a pension scam. Now that he has been located, the EFCC has a duty to charge him without any further delay.
“The Head of Service and interior minister who shielded him from prosecution ought to be charged with aiding and abetting the felon.
“Those who recalled and promoted the fugitive ought to be sanctioned by President Buhari to serve as a deterrent to others who may wish to sabotage the war against corruption”.
Still a wanted man
The EFCC says Maina is still a wanted, runaway fugitive.
In a statement on its website, the anti-graft agency says; “the public is hereby notified that Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina, former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, whose photograph appears above, is wanted by the EFCC for offences bordering on procurement fraud and obtaining by false pretences.
“Dark complexioned Maina is allegedly complicit in the over N2B pensions biometric scam in the office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation. He remains at large after charges were filed against his accomplices.
“Anybody with useful information as to his whereabouts should contact the commission in its Enugu, Kano, Lagos, Gombe, Port Harcourt or Abuja offices”.
Maina is also on the wanted list of INTERPOL (International Police).
However, campaign posters of Maina emerged in the social media space earlier in the year. He’s being positioned as a governorship candidate for Borno State in the 2019 general elections.
STOP PRESS: President Muhammadu Buhari has just fired Maina.
A statement from Femi Adesina who is Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Buhari announced as follows: "Buhari orders immediate disengagement of Mr Abdulrasheed Maina from service. Asks for full report on circumstances of his recall".
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