19 February 2013

Nigeria: Representatives Back Senate, Demand Maina's Immediate Sack

The House of Representatives has given its backing to last week's decision of the Senate urging President Goodluck Jonathan to immediately sack Abdulrasheed Maina, the chairman of the government's pension reform team.

Mr. Maina, drafted by the administration in 2010 to sanitize a corrupt pension system, has been accused of turning around to lead a massive pension fraud scheme amounting to more than N100 billion.

Senators have accused the pension boss of refusing to surrender to the Senate's investigations into the scheme, ignoring summons and raising allegations that lawmakers were after him.

The controversy peaked with the Senate's unanimous decision last week calling for his removal and prosecution after more than one year of investigations.

After initially demurring on enforcing the resolution, Mr. Jonathan on Friday ordered the Head of the Civil service, Isa Sali, to commence sanctions on Mr. Maina, for absconding from his duty post.

A government panel to recommend sanctions-which is clearly stated in civil service rules as dismissal-has been formed, and has yet to table its proposals.

The move by the representatives on Tuesday has compounded the troubles of the embattled pension boss who has reportedly gone into hiding to evade police arrest.

The House of Representatives said it was giving its support to the Senate's position as a message to the president and the executive on the collective determination to seeing resolutions of the National Assembly respected.

The House is "conscious of the need to present a common front with respect to the institutional integrity of the National Assembly," the lawmakers said in a motion, adding they were "aware of the need to send a strong signal to the executive arm of the government of the resolve of the National Assembly to stop impunity and disregard for due process in the conduct of government business."

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