Minister blames HoS for reinstatement
As EFCC launches fresh manhunt for Maina
By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor & Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA—Why did the Presidency claiming to be fighting war against graft authorise the pardon, recall and promotion of a top suspect implicated in the looting of pension fund running into hundreds of billions of Naira?
This was the question that top officials of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration tried to figure out last night, with some expressing indignation over the development, which many claim has further dented the anti-corruption fight.
Abdulrasheed Maina, who headed the controversial Presidential Pension Task Team under President Goodluck Jonathan, was declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over alleged looting of pension funds running into hundreds of millions of naira but he fled the country to the United Arab Emirates since 2013 to avoid arrest and prosecution.
In the aftermath of his actions, he was formally sacked from his post as an Assistant Director in the Ministry of Interior in 2013 from where he was seconded to handle the PTTPR by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2012.
Maina, who hails from Borno State and is reportedly said to be a high net worth person, is believed to have the ears of top government officials in Nigeria and beyond.
His disappearance from the country and refusal to honour police and National Assembly’s invitation to shed light on the missing pension funds, forced the EFCC to formally declare him wanted and his name forwarded to Interpol for interdiction.
However, in bizarre circumstance now causing ripples and anger in government and civil society circles in Nigeria, the Presidency inexplicably ordered the reinstatement of Maina and the Head of Service of the Federation on October 2, 2017 carried out the directive returning the wanted man to the Ministry of Interior as an Acting Director in charge of Human Resources.
The Presidency is said to have ordered the reinstatement of Maina despite his status as a fugitive wanted by the EFCC based on the legal advice of the Federal Ministry of Justice, which argued that since the wanted man had not been convicted by any known court in Nigeria, he could be returned to his post quietly.
Minister absolves ministry, blames HoS for reinstatement
Apparently embarrassed that the fugitive has shamelessly been returned to his ministry, the Minister of Interior, Abdurahman Dambazau, yesterday, washed his hands off Maina’s reinstatement and claimed it was the office of the Head of Service of the Federation that handled the matter.
The October 2 letter claimed that Maina’s case was reviewed and that a decision was taken that he be reinstated.
But spokesman for Attorney-General of the Federation, Salihu Othman, said he was not aware of Malami’s involvement in the recall saga.
EFCC launches fresh manhunt for Maina
But seriously disappointed by the action of the HoS over the recall saga, the EFCC, yesterday, launched a fresh bid to apprehend Maina and bring him to justice despite the failure of both the Interpol and the Nigerian Police Force to track him down.
The EFCC is said to have deployed its crack operatives to hunt for Maina within and outside Nigeria with a view to bringing him to justice, an action, which is believed to be clandestinely opposed by some powerful forces in the presidency.
The commission, yesterday, convened an emergency strategy meeting to deliberate on the shocking and embaraassing development and get Maina tracked down even though the Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, was reported to be away from town.
“We are looking for Maina everywhere and we will certainly get him and bring him to account for his action,” an EFCC top source confirmed last night to one of our correspondents in Abuja.
Contacted last night, EFCC’s spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed that Maina remains a wanted man on the commission’s list and that they were still looking for him despite the claim that he had been pardoned and recalled by the HoS.
“We are on the trail of Maina, whom we declared wanted and the situation has not changed as we speak,” Wilson said last night.