What seems to be a twist to the current battle between the National Assembly and the Chairman, Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, played out yesterday, as some of the people the senators thought they were fighting for, turned around to accuse them of attempting to assassinate the man at the centre of the controversy.
Briefing the media Thursday in Abuja, the Co-ordinator, Nigerians in Support of Pension Reform Task Team, Ngozika Ihuoma, allegedly accused the lawmakers of sending over 40 gunmen wearing police uniform to attack and assassinate Maina at the Federal Secretariat office of the Task Force.
In his words: "This is to bring to the attention of the Nigerian media and the general public, the constant, continued harassment, threat and intimidation of the chairman and members of the Pension Reform Task Team, ably led by Abdulrasheed Maina by the distinguished Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria."
Ihuoma said the threat started with the comments by the spokesperson of the Senate, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, on January 10, this year, where he was quoted as saying: "There will be no escape route for Maina, as well as the Joint Chairman of the Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Services and State and Local Government Administration, Senator Aloysius Etuk, which he accused of saying the Senate shall summon Inspector General of Police over Maina", and Senate Leader, Senator Ndoma-Egba, who said Oteh/Maina, National Assembly will enforce its position on January 27, 2013.
Continuing, he said: "This Task Team, which came up as a child of circumstance in June 2010, has so far discharged its mandate creditably, leading to the first official conviction on corruption charges of John Yakubu Yusuf by the Federal High Court in Pension Administration at the Police Pension Office, amounting to over N32 billion.
"As at the end of December, 2012, the Task Team had seized and returned to the treasury over N254 billion cash from pension suspects, detected over 73,000 ghost pensioners and brought on board over 43,000 genuine pensioners, who have never been paid pensions and gratuity since 1968. The Task Team has equally seized over 200 choice properties and prosecuting the suspects at various courts in Nigeria," said Ihuoma among other accomplishments of the Task Team.
He, however, appealed to the Senate to respect the 1999 Constitution by not embarking on self-help to assassinate any member of the Task Team.
"They being the first institution in a democracy, the Senate must respect the constitutional role of the executive and judiciary in achieving good governance. While we will not encourage lawlessness and disobedience to the authority of the National Assembly by any individual or group, we must insist that they must conduct their activities without element of bias, favouritism or intimidation. The institution is the only hope of the common man," he said.
Ihuoma, therefore, called for restraint from the National Assembly in the issue of the Pension Reform Task Team, since he said, they had adopted their report as at June, 2012.
"The bulk is now with the Executive Arm of government to implement in line with Section 88 (2) (b). Exposing corruption will not include executing the findings of the National Assembly without Executive and Judiciary input. They cannot embark on self-help as we operate a government by the rule of law. Let us all support the Pension Reform of Mr. President and conclude the work in the remaining 38 pension offices," he stated.