By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA– An Adhoc Committee of the House of Representatives has summoned the former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela and the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria , Godwin Emefiele for explanations on the alleged stealing of pension funds in Nigeria.
Also invited were former chairman of the defunct Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdulraheed Maina, former members of the Task Force, the secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, the Head of Service of the Federation, Winifred Eyo-Ita, former Head of Service, Stephen Orosanye, and the attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.
The Committee equally invited the inspector general of Police, Ibrahim Idris, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC and all relevant stakeholders in the pension saga.
The summon was made, Tuesday, at a public hearing organised by the Adhic committee to investigate the activities of the presidential task force in pensions reforms from 2010 to the time of its dissolution and any other successor agency.
Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Anayo Nnebe stated that the affected persons must as a result of accountability and thoroughness appear in person, warning that the committee would not entertain any representation.
He gave Monday next week as a new date for the committees sitting.
He said: “The issue is very simple. We have heard from PTAD and the Legislative Watch. Former minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela, all the member of the defunct Presidential committee, EFCC, ICPC, Attorney-General, Governor of Central Bank, the IGP, and all the relevant stakeholders are invited by this committee.
” on Monday, March 12, 2018, we expect that in the next adjournment, all stakeholders would be here.
“We have to get to the root of this matter. We cannot conclude this investigation without hearing from the persons involved. We must bring all the culprits to book.”
Earlier in her presentations, the Executive Secretary of the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate, PTAD, Sharon Ikeazor said that Maina panel left no significant details for her upon assumption of office.
According to her, PTAD only inherited liabilities from the task force.
She said: ” We didn’t get anything sufficient from the defunct task force, only liabilities were handed over to the directorate. PTAD is an outfall of the maladministration of the pensions reforms “.
In his own submission, the Executive Secretary, Legislative Watch, Ngozika Ihuoma who was also a former member of of the presidential task force told the adhoc committee that the task force was still active with its mandate.
He submitted that Maina was innocent of all the allegations levelled against him, wondering why other government officials were not fingered in the alleged diversion of pension funds.
“What of all the other members (of the task force) and other government officials at the time?” he aksed.
Ihuoma added that Maina helped the federal government to recover a total of N1.3 trillion “after a visit to him in Dubai by the Minister of Justice.”
Earlier in his remarks, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara who was represented at the hearing by the Chief Whip of the House, Hon. Pally Iriase while recalling the activities of the defunct task force and the attended controversy, saying it was the responsible of the House as the representatives of the people to investigate the matter.
“My dear colleagues, we are all aware that the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms was inaugurated on 10th June, 2010, with the mandate to restructure the Head of Service Pension Office, Police Pension office and among others. The Task Force was dissolved in February 2013 after series of allegations of looting of pension fund amounting to N200 Billion which was neither accounted for by neither the Task Force nor the successor agency.
“Following the great significance of this sector in the lives of our citizens especially the retirees and the receipt of numerous complaints and petitions from relevant stakeholders, it became inevitable for the House of Representatives to set up this Ad-hoc Committee to examine all the facts surrounding the activities of the Presidential Task on Pension Reforms during its existence.
“The subject of this investigation has had a checkered history and has become very controversial. I understand that the Senate is also conducting investigations on the subject. As a bicameral Legislature our constituents have inundated us with complaints that gave rise to the Resolution of the House. Where possible you should compare notes with the Senate while maintaining the Independence of your investigations.
“As Members of the Parliament, it is our mandate to represent our people very well, demonstrate transparency and justice to issues that affect the well-being of our people in accordance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and other related policies.
“I am confident that this Committee will carry out a thorough unbiased investigation, taking cognizance of the views of all stakeholders and interest groups and at the end, coming up with a report that will not only be fair but will be seen as fair”, he said.