By Ayo Kehinde
After directing the immediate disengagement from service of Mr Abdulrasheed Maina, former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, President Muhammadu Buhari is said to be considering sanctioning any official linked directly or remotely with the reinstatement of the felon and fugitive.
Culprits may be shown the door in an apparent effort by the President to refocus the administration key policy, anti-corruption drive, which has come under some haze in the previous weeks courtesy of the recent questionable contracts and dealings at the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, the allegation of corrupt practices against the Inspector General of Police by Senator Maina, a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police, who incidentally would be making his case in Senate tomorrow.
According to a top source with knowledge of the inner workings of the Presidency, Buhari “considers this an affront taken too far,” adding that a full-scale investigation to include the immigrations and clearing officers at the airport where Maina made his entry into the country as well as whoever had a hand in the reinstatement letter would “ have a taste of the President’s anger”.
Trouble began when it was discovered that the Head of Service of the Federation , Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita to whom the President had directed a memo asking for explanations, denied on Monday that her office was the source of the letter that authorised Maina’s reinstatement as earlier stated by the Minister of Interior, Lt.Gen Abdulrahman Dambazau in a statement on Sunday, following media exposure of the sham.
The Minister of Interior, retired Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau, on Oct. 22, had confirmed the resumption of duty by Abdulrasheed Maina, as an Acting Director in his ministry.
Lt -Gen Dambazau, rtd
The Press Secretary to the minister, Mr Ehisienmen Osaigbovo had said in a statement in Abuja on Sunday, “The ex-chairman of the Presidential Task Force Team on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina, was posted a few days ago to the Ministry of Interior by the Office of the Head of Service on an acting capacity to fill a vacancy 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 retirement of federal civil servants are the responsibility of the Federal Civil Service Commission and the office of the Head of Service of the Federation, of which no minister exercises such powers as erroneously expressed.”
But in a swift reaction, following Buhari’s query, the Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs Eyo-Ita denied that the letter reinstating Maina came from her office
Her Assistant Director, Media Relations, Mohammed Manga, said in a statement on Monday; “The attention of the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation has been drawn to several media reports that the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation has approved the reinstatement into the Federal Civil Service of Alhaji Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina and his subsequent posting to the Ministry of Interior.
“The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation wishes to inform the public that the reinstatement and posting of Alhaji Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina never emanated from the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation.
“Consequently, the purported reinstatement and posting by the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation is totally erroneous and misleading.”
The Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, who reportedly gave favourable legal advice that led to Maina’s clearance before he jetted with confidence into the country to resume duty, may also be investigated. “Recall that the AG recently asked the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Magu, to hand over files of high profile Nigerians under its investigation. If his office is linked with this embarrassing clearance, heads must roll” said the source.
Mr Femi Adesina, the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, in a statement issued in Abuja on Monday, said the President’s directive sacking Maina from office was contained in a memo to the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita
Adesina stated that the President equally demanded a full report of the circumstances of Maina’s recall and posting to the Ministry of Interior. According to the presidential aide, the report is to be submitted to the office of the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari, before the end of work today.
Maina was appointed by former President Goodluck Jonathan as Chairman of the task force in 2010 to check the corruption in the country’s pension system. In 2012, the Nigeria Police accused him of misappropriating N100 billion pension funds in connivance with others. Many policemen who had gone unpaid for 22 months could not believe the source of their travail and reportedly died of shock on hearing to the fraud. The Civil Service Commission reportedly dismissed him for “absconding from duty’’.
Maina was arraigned in absentia by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which declared him wanted in 2015 and asked the Interpol to assist in apprehending him.
Mr Wilson Uwujaren, the spokesman of the anti-graft agency in a statement at the weekend, said Maina remains on the commission’s wanted list.