The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), and prominent lawyer, Femi Falana have called on the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to arrest immediately the wanted ex-chairman of the defunct Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina, who has returned to Nigeria.
Maina, who fled the country in 2015 after being indicted for allegedly perpetrating fraud to the tune of N2 billion, returned to the country and was posted to the Ministry of Interior based on the recommendation of the Head of Service and was given double promotion.
It can be recalled that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had declared the ex-pension boss wanted on its website, www.efccnigeria.org.
The declaration read thus:
“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.”
Speaking up about the fraud, Sagay told newsmen on Sunday, October 22, the PACAC chairman described pension scam as one of the worst forms of fraud known to mankind and anyone accused of such should not be handled with kid gloves.
“This man (Abdulrasheed Maina) 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,” Sagay lamented.
“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.”
According to Sagay, the EFCC should not turn blind eyes to such hideous crime by Abdulrasheed Maina and his cohorts.
“If it established that they brought him back into the civil service despite knowledge of the man’s alleged crimes, they are also accessories after the fact and should also be arrested and prosecuted.”
In his reaction, the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, mocked the President Muhammadu Buhari administration for reabsorbing Abdulrasheed Maina. Taking to his twitter page, the governor said:
“Someone accused of stealing billions of pension fund was returned to the Federal Government civil service and you still think Buhari is fighting corruption?”
The Human Right lawyer, Falana not only urge the EFCC to apprehend Maina, he equally called for the immediate prosecution of the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau and the Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, for shielding the suspect from prosecution.
“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,” he stated.
Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Yusuf Ali and retired Commissioner of Police, Abubakar Tsav, both agreed that the re-absorption of Maina into the service, if true, was a big blow to the anti-corruption efforts of the Federal Government.
“The war against corruption is not true. This man ran away after he was accused of embezzling pension fund; instead of handing him over to the EFCC, he was re-absorbed and promoted. Why?
“This is very bad. We expect that Buhari with his reputation as a man of high honesty and integrity not to condone this kind of thing. If such a man can condone such a thing, I don’t know where this country is going,” Mr. Tsav said.
“Retired police officers are owed 32 months of pension arrears, the money this man (Maina) is being accused to have stolen is part of the money required to pay these arrears.
“Up till now, they have not been paid and this man came back after he ran away, has been taken back and promoted. This is a mockery of this anti-corruption fight.”