- Tasks Buhari to fish out those behind the act
By George Okorocha
Alarmed at the sudden return, reinstatement and promotion of former Chairman of defunct Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms,Mr Abdulrasheed Maina, who was sacked by the Jonathan’s administration for alleged corruption,Senate yesterday set up an ad hoc committee to investigate circumstances surrounding his elevation.
Recall that Maina was in 2012, accused of a pension fraud and was declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC in 2013,after which he allegedly absconded from the country.
The committee, which is headed by Chairman Senate Committee on Establishment & Public Service, Mr Emmanuel Paulker would comprise of chairmen and vice chairmen of committees on Judiciary, Interior and Anti-Corruption as well as vice chairman of committee on establishment.
The Upper House also mandated the committee to further investigate how Maina got promoted to a post of a Director after his dismissal and being declared wanted.
This followed a motion by the Chairman Senate Committee on Navy, Sen. Isah Misau, on the floor of the Senate.
It further directed the ad hoc committee to carry out a thorough job to get to the root of the matter, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for taking prompt action on the matter.
Presenting the motion, Misau said his attention was drawn to newspaper publications and social media posts on the return, reinstatement and promotion of Maina.
He expressed disappointment with the fact that in spite of efforts by the present government to fight corruption, some people in the government were being accused of aiding and abetting corruption.
According to him, for someone on Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s(EFCC), wanted list for fraud related matters, to be “smuggled’’ into the public service, is worrisome.
“He was an Assistant Director but he is now promoted to the position of Director not even a Deputy Director and we heard Police officers are even attached to him.
“I do not understand why a government that is always talking about fighting corruption is getting itself into a mess such as this.
“We heard that some people who are close to the President are covering up for fraudulent people in this country.
“In this case, we heard that the office of the Attorney General of the Federation is allegedly involved.
If we are preaching for the right thing to be done and things are going this way, it is a big embarrassment.
“To me it is only the President that is sincere about the fight against corruption because those close to him are the ones covering up for corrupt individuals,’’ he said.
The lawmaker urged the senate to play its part by using its powers to investigate the matter.
Contributing, the Chief Whip, Sen. Olusola Adeyeye, said it was unfortunate that in spite the fact that Maina absconded from the country after being charged, he was brought back.
He said it was more disturbing was that he was reinstated into the public service and given an elevated position.
“If Maina had to return to the country, it must be for him to present himself and explain the charges against him, which have remained unanswered.
“Unfortunately he did not only return but returned to an elevated position, as a substantive director. This is an insult to all civil servants doing their jobs diligently.
“It is a sad moment for me as a member of APC. We can’t say we want to fight corruption and we allow this kind of `the more you look the less you see.’
“Jesus said it is more difficult for a rich man to pass through the eye of a needle but the opposite is the case in Nigeria,’’ he said.
Adeyeye commended President Muhammadu Buhari for acting promptly by ordering Maina’s sack and setting up a committee to investigate the matter.
He, however decried that the President’s effort at good governance was being frustrated by some people, who wanted him to fail.
The chief whip urged President Buhari to ensure that those responsible for the act were brought to book, adding that, corruption was not limited to stealing money but incompetence.
He said, “those in charge of security know Maina was a wanted man, how then did he get back and the Police and State Security Service(SSS)did not know.
“Also, the gurus in civil service claim not to know how he was reinstated and promoted. He must be brought be brought to book.
“We remember Oronsanye who was accused of a similar matter, who remained in Nigeria, faced the court and got exonerated. The least Maina must do is face the process.’’
Sen. Kabiru Marafa(APC-Zamfara) commended the senate for deliberating on the matter, saying it was of concern to Nigerians.
He, however said, such despicable acts should not always be attributed to failure of the All Progressives Congress(APC).
He said,”no family can boast of having 100 per cent good children and APC is not an exception.
“Bad as it is, this case should not be attributed to the party and President Buhari has to be commended for taking a decisive action on the matter.
“I believe he will bring the culprits to book at the end of the day.
Sen. Bassey Akpan(PDP- Akwa Ibom ) said for the Attorney General of the Federation to be allegedly involved in the case was worrisome.
He said if found wanting in the ongoing investigation, a decisive action should be taken not to ridicule the revered office he held.
He said while President Buhari had set up a committee to investigate the matter, it would not stop the senate from playing its role.
He said, this senate must take this to a logical conclusion.
In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki commended the lawmakers that lent their voices to the motion.
He said the development was disturbing, in view of efforts by the present administration to fight corruption.
“I would like the ad hoc committee to work hard on this matter that bother on our security, corruption and how we manage the public service,” Saraki said.