The news of Abdulrasheed Maina’s arrest is making the rounds and causing much buzz among Nigerians. The former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), who is allegedly facing a 12-count money laundering charge filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was reportedly arrested in the Niger Republic on Monday. The arrest was said to have been made possible on an existing mutual relationship and security agreement between Nigeria and the Niger Republic.
Maina had been on the run prior to his arrest in connection to a N2 billion pension scam.
How it all started:
In 2013, Maina was Chairman of the Presidential Task Team on Pension Reforms (PTTPR) when he was accused of diverting N2 billion pension funds into his personal account in the office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation. He was consequently dismissed from the Federal Civil Service Commission on the recommendation of the Office of the Head of Service.
His dismissal was followed by an arrest warrant by the senate after which he reportedly fled to Saudi Arabia.
In July 2015, however, the EFCC charged the former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team on a 24-count charge on procurement fraud and obtaining by false pretence together with three others including a former Head of Service, Steve Oronsaye, Osarenkhoe Afe and Fredrick Hamilton B Global Services Limited before a Federal High Court.
In November 2015, he was declared wanted by the EFCC after which a manhunt was launched to fish him out. He was allegedly living as a fugitive between 2013 and 2015 up until his arrest. He was also reported to have jumped bail too.
In June 2016, Maina declared he had been cleared of an alleged N195B theft by the senate. He also claimed he was wrongfully accused and victimized and asked that he be apologized to – shortly after which he went AWOL – only to resurface in October 2017 on the government’s payroll yet again.
He was reportedly recalled and made the Director in charge of Human Resources in the Ministry of Interior. Maina was an Assistant Director in the ministry before he was appointed to chair the pension task force.
The then Interior Minister Abdulrahman Dambazau confirmed Maina’s return to the Federal Civil Service but denied his involvement in the reinstatement of the embattled former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, blaming it on the office of the Head of Service.
A statement from the Interior Minister’s office, signed by the press secretary to the Honorable Minister of Interior, Ehisienmen Osaigbovo, reads:
“The attention of the Honorable Minister of Interior, Lt Gen (Rtd) Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau, has been drawn to a report on the recall of the wanted pension boss sacked for alleged corruption.
“For the avoidance of doubt, issues relating to discipline, employment, re-engagement, posting, promotion and retirements of federal civil servants are the responsibility of the federal civil service commission and office of the Head of Service of the Federation, of which no Minister exercises such powers as erroneously expressed in the publication.
“It is understood that Maina’s last posting was with the Ministry of Interior and that is probably why he was re-posted back to the Ministry.
“It is, therefore, improper for anybody to think that a minister could exercise such powers or influence the process of discipline, re-engagement, and deployment of any civil servant to his ministry or any other ministry for that matter.
“Again, such responsibility is that of the Federal Civil Service Commission and/or the Head of Civil Service”.
Fresh documents, however, revealed that Abdulrahman Dambazau, the then Minister of Interior and the Head of Service, Winifred Oyo-Ita, who had previously denied involvement in Maina’s reinstatement both played major roles in his return to the Federal Civil Service.
The documents also revealed that the Minister of Justice and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, also played an active role in Maina’s reinstatement.
Maina’s reinstatement sparked public outrage and was described as an embarrassment to the Buhari Administration which was supposedly waging a war against corruption in the country – it was quite ironical. President Buhari’s anti-corruption adviser, Prof. Itse Sagay, however, advised that Maina be arrested immediately for the charges levelled against him. Human Rights lawyer, Femi Falana, also called for his immediate arrest.
The embattled Maina was reportedly at large until his recent arrest.
From the foregoing, it is widely believed that Maina had strong accomplices who aided him to jump bail and escape from the country – accomplices who are also believed to have taken part in his corrupt practices. His reinstatement into the Federal Civil Service despite the corruption charges levelled against him suggests that he also had strong collaborators who facilitated his smooth reinstatement into the system.
It is quite unfortunate that the Maina saga and the key players in it have contributed to making a mockery of the Nigerian Judicial System. His arrest is a win and a step towards getting justice for the pension scam. It is about time his abettors are fished out too and made to face the consequences of their actions.