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National Assembly moves to probe recall of pension panel ex-chief, Maina

By Igho Akeregha, Adamu Abuh, George Opara, Otei Oham (Abuja) and Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna)
25 October 2017   |   4:38 am
Maina was sacked in 2013 for his involvement in a N2 billion naira pension biometric scam. He was to later turn down summons from authorities before fleeing the country for years.

National Assembly Complex Abuja.

• Ruling party expresses surprise
• EFCC seals off suspected houses, firms of culprit
• Centre seeks urgent steps to save anti-graft war

The Senate has raised an ad-hoc committee to investigate the reinstatement of dismissed Assistant Director in the Ministry of Interior and former Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina.

It also resolved to look into the alleged controversial involvement of the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, in the entire scenario. The membership of the panel consists of chairmen and vice chairmen of the committees on establishment, interior, anti-corruption and judiciary.

Maina was sacked in 2013 for his involvement in a N2 billion naira pension biometric scam. He was to later turn down summons from authorities before fleeing the country for years.

The decision to initiate the investigation followed the adoption of a motion by Isah Misau (Bauchi Central). In his debate, he wondered why someone, on the wanted list of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for fraud-related matter and dismissed from the civil service, could sneak into the country and immediately got double promotion as Director.

Most members, during contribution, fingered Malami in the controversy. Also, the House of Representatives resolved to set up ad hoc committee to investigate issue. It is to look into the circumstances that led to the sack of Maina.

The development was consequent upon a motion by Jagaba Jagaba (Kaduna, APC) seeking sanctions against person or persons implicated in the scandal.

He expressed concern that the former panel chairman returned from self-exile and was greeted with accelerated elevation.

The lawmaker also disclosed that he was accused of mismanaging over N100 billion pension funds. He urged the chamber to commend the President for ordering the sack of the returnee.

Jagaba called on the anti-graft agency to immediately arrest and prosecute Maina to serve as deterrent to others. However, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) expressed shock over the reinstatement.

Its spokesperson, Malam Bolaji Abdullahi, described the action as a national embarrassment. He stated that it would be hasty to assume that the President would not take decisive action on the report of the investigative panel on Maina.

Also yesterday, officials of the anti-corruption agency sealed off four houses and two companies allegedly belonging to the embattled ex-assistant director in Kaduna State.

Besides, it was gathered that eight property had been earmarked for closure. The spokesman at the Kaduna zonal office of the EFCC, Mallam Kamilu Gebi, said: “We have sealed two companies belonging to the former pension boss as well as four houses.”

Meanwhile, the Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED) said it was apprehensive that the fight against corruption may be running into credibility crisis.

While praising Buhari for disengaging the recalled Maina, the group, in a statement by its Executive Director, Dr Ibrahim Zikirullahi, maintained that the “surreptitious recall of Maina, and his reinstatement to the civil service is a clear manifestation of the presence of corrupt and morally depraved characters in the federal cabinet. Their action is a coup against the anti-corruption war.”