By Okey Ndiribe & Emman Ovuakporie
ABUJA—MEMBERS of the House of Representatives, yesterday, rose in support of the earlier call by the Senate to sack Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Force Team, Mr Abdulrasheed Maina.
This came as the Speaker, Hon Aminu Tambuwal asked the Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Abubakar to produce Maina, who was reported to have fled the country, to answer questions on how over N200 billion pension fund was allegedly mismanaged.
The resolution to concur with the Senate over Maina’s sack followed a motion brought on the floor of the House by Chairman House Committee on Rules and Business, Hon Albert Sam-Tsokwa, representing TarabaState tagged: “House Concurrence To Senate Resolution On Dismissal Of Mr Abdulrasheed Maina For Refusal To Appear Before The Senate”.
Tsokwa who led the debate said: “The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Wednesday February 13, 2013 passed a resolution (S/Res/033/02/13) requesting, that Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina be dismissed from the Public Service of the Federal Republic of Nigeria immediately and be disengaged from all acts relating to public duty.
“The Inspector General of Police should appear before the Committee on Police Affairs to give reasons why he did not act on the Warrant issued by the President of the Senate. Mr Abdulrasheed Maina should be investigated and prosecuted.”
He said: “Conscious of the need to present a common front with respect to the institutional integrity of the National Assembly; aware of the need to send a strong signal to the executive arm of the government of the resolve of the National Assembly to stop impunity and disregard for due process in the conduct of government business; Maina should be dismissed from the Public Service of the Federal Republic of Nigeria immediately and be disengaged from all acts relating to public duty.”
Hon Aminu Sulayman, representing Kano, speaking in support of the motion said: “Ordinarily the man at the centre should not be an issue but he is the architect of those who had allegedly died because of the pension scam.
“For the past four weeks, the Senate has been discussing this unfortunate issue and the man had the effrontery to come here with a battery of security guards and a sponsored crowd.
No one is above the law
“I posit that no Nigerian should be above the law in Nigeria. We the 360 members of this honourable House should throw our weight behind the Senate resolution to sack Maina.”
In his contribution, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila representing Lagos said: “I agree whole heartedly with this motion and it is necessary we educate people about representative democracy we practice.
“It is only the Executive that has power to dismiss, we are not seeking to dismiss Maina; we are only asking the Executive to do its job. What we are asking the Executive to do is to dismiss him based on Section 5 of our constitution which we all know is not a useless provision. Once such a directive is given, it must be obeyed and heads must roll and the legislative arm cannot be left out.”
Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa representing Ikorodu Federal Constituency in her contribution said: “Very briefly, I support this motion and there is need to send a strong message to Maina on the arrogance and impunity he had displayed. He even came here with placard carriers, he must come and answer questions and he must be disciplined.”
Hon Bitrus Kaze representing PlateauState said: “I want to join my colleagues to support this motion, this is about the second time that we are concurring with the Senate on sensitive issues.
“The first time was on the issue of Doctrine of Necessity and now about Maina who has made so many to be traumatised over their pension money. “Speaking against the motion, Hon Kingsley Chinda said: “What I quarrel with is the procedural aspect of this motion that we must concur with the Senate. For instance, when we asked the Senate to concur on Oteh, they refused because as we speak Oteh is still working.”
The Speaker, Tambuwal quickly intervened saying, “I am duty bound to correct you on this, the Senate concurred long ago.”
At this juncture, the Speaker put the motion to a voice vote and it was unanimously adopted.”
The Speaker after the voice vote advised the IGP to immediately liaise with Interpol and get Maina arrested.
He said: “We won’t be fighting corruption in isolation if some people through selective processes are being protected. Every available fact here is against him, those of us in high places must not be seen to be condoning corruption or we will be seen to be paying lip service to the fight against corruption.”
House Committee chairman makes U-turn
It would be recalled that the seconder of the motion Hon Ibrahim Kamba was the Chairman of House Committee on Pension that had given the same Maina a clean bill of health earlier.
The committee had submitted its report to the Senate, calling for the probe of the Chairman of the Presidential Task Team on Pension Reform, Abdulrasheed Maina.
The House in a memo it addressed to the Head of Service of the Federation criticised the Senate report and urged President Jonathan to ensure adequate protection for the Chairman of Presidential Task Team on Pension Reform to carry out his assignment.
The memo was signed by the House Committee Chairman on Pensions, Ibrahim Bawa Kamba and titled “Urgent Call on Mr President To Further Give Protection and Directive To the Presidential Task Team on Pension Reform to Continue To Carry Out Thorough, Comprehensive/Holistic Pension Reform Across All MDAs and Parastatals To A Logical Conclusion.”
The House noted that according to its own findings, “the Presidential Task Team on Pension Reform should be the only genuine veritable vehicle for executing reform agenda on Pension Funds.” The memo also stated: “In the light of corruption in the management of Pension Funds within MDAs and Parastatals, the House Committee on Pensions wishes to call on President Jonathan to direct the Presidential Task Team on Pension Reform to overhaul and continue to reform all MDAs and Parastatals’ pension administration.”