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How not to treat a fugitive – Josef Omorotionmwan

Police

NIGERIA is one place where corruption is gradually assuming the same dimension with the weather, which everyone complains, but nobody does anything, about. We condemn stealing in the strongest possible terms; but all our actions seem to indicate that crime pays, provided you do it big. That explains why the petty thief is quickly thrown into prison while the big time looters who steal billions and trillions walk our streets in unfettered freedom.

Our pension schemes and the total economy are in shambles. Our founding fathers meant well when they put in place two inter-related measures to ensure that the worker does not suffer undue hardship as he grows old – a pension scheme for the retired worker; and the Pension Transition Arrangement Directorate, PTAD, the latter being an independent agency that oversees the smooth running of the former. Little did the founding fathers know that they were just creating stealing centres for some unscrupulous elements – in whose eyes every money for pension was meant to be stolen! Even without the bold label, these pension fund thieves are murderers because their actions lead to the death of many innocent pensioners.

Not many can still remember the case of John Yakubu Yusuf, Assistant Director in the Federal Civil Service, as he then was, who once wondered why people were bothering him when he “stole only N23 billion”. For stealing N23 billion, Yusuf was sentenced to two years imprisonment with an option of a fine of N75,000 (representing 0.003% of his loot). He paid the fine instantly and became a free man, unperturbed that the actual owners of the money were dying on pension queues like poisoned rats.

Enter Nelly Mayshak, former Director-General, PTAD. As soon as Madam got into office, she cleaned up the vault by carting away the N2 billion that was left in the pension accounts of the Head of the Federal Civil Service; Nigeria Customs Service; and the Nigeria Prison Service.

Mayshak allegedly embezzled the N500 million meant to be a take-off grant for PTAD. She then proceeded to pay herself N50 million monthly in salary and allowances. She enriched herself by allegedly awarding phony contracts to herself through her cronies.

Around February 2016, she was suspended from office; and in April, she was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. At that time, we were told that investigation was ongoing. That case must have since expired.

Today, the case of Abdulrasheed Maina is back on track, still more nauseating, still more embarrassing – a sordid affair by every description!

Elsewhere, we have discussed the conspiracy theory at length. It is clear that these big-time looters are not the owners of the loots. At best, they are mere commission agents.

Maina was in 2012, the Deputy Director of Customs, Immigration and Prisons Pension Office, when the National Assembly discovered that all was not well with the N200 billion in his care. Maina rebuffed all the invitations to appear before the Senate to the point where the Senate issued an arrest warrant on him to compel his appearance. The Inspector General of Police at the time, Mohammed Abubakar, refused to execute the warrant until it was finally quashed by an Abuja High Court.

By a unanimous Resolution of the Senate with the concurrence of the House of Representatives, the National Assembly ordered the President to dismiss Maina from the public service as well as arrest, investigate and prosecute him for the multi-billion Naira fraud in the pension office.

By 2013, Maina had fled from the country. He had been dismissed from the Civil Service of the Federation and he had been declared wanted by the Senate, the EFCC, and the INTERPOL.

In all the theatricals, Maina remains the protagonist. Today, he is back to Nigeria, in fact, to a greater comfort zone than in 2013.

Sometimes, we want to think that Maina sneaked back into the country at midnight, which would point to failure of intelligence. But we are unable to totally ignore what his family is saying. A spokesman for the family, Aliyu Maina, says his brother is a messiah; and that he was brought back to Nigeria by the Administration to help drive its change mantra.

This sounds like a good reason for returning the man; reinstating him and posting him to a different Ministry on double promotion – full Director on Salary Grade Level 17.

Come to think of it, if Maina had been declared truly wanted by all; now he is back; he has been reabsorbed into the Service; can’t we see anything wrong with the President’s action of merely sacking him? It is like the fugitive we have been looking for coming for dinner and we couldn’t hold him!

What did Col. Sambo Dasuki do differently? We see the conspiracy theory fully at work here. We see selective enforcement. The money appropriate for the purchase of arms and ammunition was spread to other people by Dasuki. Dasuki was put in hand-cuffs and paraded like a common criminal. Dasuki produced a list of those who shared the money and we went after them.

Contrariwise, Maina today parades a long list of those who shared the pension money in his possession and we are turning him loose to go underground again! There can be no greater protection than this! Where, then, is your anti-corruption war?

True, who the gods would kill, they first make mad. Otherwise, what is Maina still looking for in the Civil Service? In all, this Administration must realize that this is certainly not how to treat a fugitive. Every pension fund thief must be treated like the murderer that he really is. By now, Maina should be in hand-cufffs, answering the supplementary questions, possibly preparatory to spending the rest of his life behind bars!

We also deserve an explanation on what the President is doing about all the moles around him. Under the guise of promoting him, they will stop at nothing to destroy him. We can’t carry on this way!

 

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