Pension Reform N2bn Fraud: Arrest Ex-pension Boss Now – Sagay, Falana Tell Buhari
Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, The Chairman, 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 N2bn, 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.
But on Sunday evening, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, maintained that Maina was still wanted.
When asked if Maina would be arrested by the commission, the EFCC spokesman refused to speak further.
The EFCC on its website, www.efccnigeria.org, retained a picture of Maina, asking members of the public to help fish him out.
The EFCC wrote,
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.
“Dark-complexioned Maina is allegedly complicit in the over N2bn pensions biometric scam in the office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation. He remains at large after charges were filed against his accomplices.
“Anybody with useful information as to his whereabouts should contact the commission in its Enugu, Kano, Lagos, Gombe, Port Harcourt or Abuja offices.
Speaking with our correspondent on Sunday, Sagay said Maina’s case should not be treated with kid gloves based on the gravity of the offence he allegedly committed.
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 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.
“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.
The EFCC should not just say they are aware; they should take action. The EFCC should now arrest him, interrogate him and if they can establish a case, prosecute him. They should also investigate all those involved in the reabsorbing and promotion of this man.
“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 Maina.
Fayose said on his official Twitter handle, “Someone accused of stealing billions of pension fund was returned to the Federal Government civil service and you still think Buhari is fighting corruption?”
Similarly, human rights lawyer, Falana urged the EFCC to immediately charge Maina with the alleged N100bn pension fraud for which he was declared wanted for years.
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 allegedly shielding the suspect from prosecution.
Falana, in a text message to our correspondent on Sunday, also urged President Buhari to sanction those involved in Maina’s recall and promotion in their bid to sabotage the administration’s anti-corruption war.
Mr. Maina was declared wanted by the EFCC because of his indictment in a pension scam. Now that he has been located, the EFCC has a duty to charge him without any further delay.
The Head of Service and interior minister who shielded him from prosecution ought to be charged with aiding and abetting the felon.
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.