Editorial: Arrest and Try Maina NOW!




Abdulrasheed Maina, fugitive former Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms may never be booked and tried under this administration for the billions of Naira he heisted going by the designs of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami. In a current interview with a national magazine, The Interview,  Malami tried but with negligible success to wash his hands off what has become a debacle of one of the strong points of the administration; anti-corruption. “Where is the corruption element in the re-instatement of Maina, conceding that Maina was indeed reinstated?”, he asked at a point in the interview. At another, he states; “What damage is there against the President as far as this scenario is and pension syndicate is concerned”.

Yet when he was to embark on the trip to Dubai for the meeting with Maina, who had been declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, which had contacted the Interpol for assistance in arresting the outlaw, the country’s number one legal officer did not consider it appropriate to inform the nation’s first citizen and Commander-in Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammad Buhari, to whom the anti-corruption is the political equivalent of a restructuring process in nation building. But he informed the Director of DSS, Lawal Musa Daura, of the trip and traveled in the company of the National Security Adviser Major-General Babagana Munguno, rtd.

He only brief Buhari, according to him in the interview, after the meeting with Maina in Dubai!. When asked why he kept the information from Nigerians, he replied facetiously that he did so “because of the cynicism of Nigerians”. The questions that arise from this ambiguous effort by Malami, are these; Whose interest beside those of the President who appointed him and Nigerians to whom he is their number one legal officer is Malami serving, particularly in this matter of anti-corruption ?” Is there any surprise that when Maina was eventually reinstated, it was to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, under the supervision of Munguno, that he was seconded?”. Yet, the man who refused to inform the President and considers Nigerians cynics said he undertook the trip because of national interest.

Here him: “The decision happened to be very meaningful, particularly from the point of national interest. It was a time Maina intimated us to the fact that there exists a cartel, a syndicate within the pension scheme.” Fine. But did he need to be reabsorbed to help crack the syndicate?  Why was his ultimate boss and Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs Winifred Eyo -Ita kept in the dark about his recall?

Besides, did the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice have to spend tax payers money for a bogus trip to Dubai for a meeting with Maina to know the outlaw could not have pulled off the heist alone.? Syndicates and cartels operating in the public and private concerns are as old as the nation itself. The ‘ghost workers’ syndrome in the Nigeria civil service thrives on them, the electoral system use them to subvert the peoples will during and after every elections, and indeed the President often hint at the term anytime he alluded that corruption was fighting back to thwart his onerous efforts.

Well, assuming there was no corruption element is Maina’s reinstatement according to Malami’s viewpoint, which he tried so laboriously to state in the interview, what can we make of the intervention of the Eyo-Ita, when she got wind of the secrecy behind the deal and dared to break protocol by informing the President verbally about the moral implication of Maina’s restoration for the morale and discipline of the workforce and for the anti-corruption crusade of the administration.?

There is more.  Malami recently filed a legal suit at the Federal Hight Court, Abuja, seeking to stop the Senate from probing the matter on the grounds that the federal lawmakers lack the Constitutional powers to appoint and discipline civil servants. Well, that may be so. But why did the same Malami filed a counter suit to that of Maina at the Federal High Court, Kaduna, insisting that the EFCC, an agency of government, can arraign Maina.? In the event, why wasn’t the civil service rules of engagement exhausted in processing Maina’s recall? Questions and questions begging for answers.

Clearly, there is more to it than meets the eye in the Maina saga. Eyo-Ita told journalists last week that the administrative panel of inquiry set up to investigate the matter is yet to finish its work.

This case must be cleared up even if it takes ages. The civil service occupies a strategic position and plays a vital role in the area of policy formulation for the government and service delivery to Nigerians. The Maina scandal need to be fully prosecuted to send shock waves through the civil service system to wean it of its often bureaucratic inertia and position the government to properly fight corruption. What has aptly being described as Maingate, considering the involved nature of the crime – the amount involved, the problem of trust it poses to the retirement scheme – is a blot on the administration anti-corruption fight.

Anyway, it is time to get Maina back home to answer for his sins. Dubai is not a haven for Nigerian criminals. Mr James Onanafe Ibori, former Delta State governor, fled this country to the same Dubai when he tried to evade justice for whatever crime he was being tried at home some years ago. The government at the time invoked the bilateral treaty between countries to effect his arrest and eventual trial and imprisonment in the UK. Maina cannot and should not be encouraged, if that what is been done officially, to evade the law. He must be fished out and brought back and tried. NOW!