24 November 2017

Nigeria: Maina Gives Condition to Appear Before Reps Panel

Photo: Premium Times
Abdulrasheed Maina.

The former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina has listed conditions for his personal appearance before the House of Representatives panel investigating his reinstatement into the civil service.

Speaking through his counsel Mohammed Sani Katu yesterday, Maina pleaded with the lawmakers to ensure that no security agency would arrest or harass him before he could appear to give more details on the matter.

"We ask that you give Maina protection so that no security agency will interfere or arrest him so that he'll appear in person. If that is done, we can assure you that Maina will come. We want you to give Maina a cover to appear."

Katu said Maina was not properly sacked from the civil service because even before the purported dismissal, the ex-pension chief had gone to court to challenge the action.

"On the issue of his disappearance, he had to disappear because there was so much threats to his life. On the issue of his dismissal from service, which came up in 2013, we have documents to say here that even after he was allegedly sacked, he still wrote letters to the then president, finance minister, and the rest, which they acted on.

"I can tell you that about 23 files were sent to Maina even as at last few months to treat in his capacity as acting director, even after the purported dismissal.

"Another matter was that whether those that sacked him had powers to do so. When his lawyers realized that there was a process of sacking him, they wrote a letter to the commission that he filed a case in court against that. His letter wasn't complied with," the lawyer said.

Barrister Katu said Maina was reinstated on grade level 16 via a letter dated 28th September, 2017 from the interior ministry signed by one Dr Aki Attahiru.

Asked if Maina still receives salary, Katu answered in the affirmative and promised to provide documents to that effect.

The panel also listened to the Nigeria Police and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC), which told the lawmakers that they had no role whatsoever in Maina's reinstatement.

Malami, Oyo-Ita testify at panel hearing

The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami said he could not recall signing any letter directing the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) to reinstate Maina, saying the matter was still "a work in progress and not concluded" as at October 5, 2017.

This is even as the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Interior, Engr Abubakar Magaji, was indicted in the matter, as being the one responsible for the letter reinstating Maina.

The Head of Service of the Federation (HoS), Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita, told the lawmakers that after Maina's dismissal from the civil service in 2013, her office started receiving letters from the AGF, asking for Maina's reinstatement.

She said the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) consequently wrote to her to request that the Ministry of Interior should review Maina's sack. A senior staff committee was constituted to review the case but that it upheld the dismissal.

However, she said, shortly after that, the FCSC wrote another letter to reinstate Maina.

"Once I got that letter, I held on to it, because I needed more clarification on that. So, I was surprised to see that without giving any letter, the said Mr Maina was re-absorbed and posted back to the interior ministry.

"I want to make it clear that without the civil service conveying the official communication to him, he shouldn't have been posted to the ministry."

She explained that her decision to hold on to the letter reinstating Maina was because she felt it would be against the anti-corruption agenda of the current government as Maina has some corruption allegations to clear.

AGF reveals pension syndicate

Malami told the panel that "There indeed exists pension fraud, greater one at that. Here exists a pension fraud syndicate in Nigeria, including serving and retired civil servants, legislators, public office holders, among others."

But the lawmakers were not comfortable with this assertion and asked Malami to provide proof showing the involvement of lawmakers in the pension fraud.

But Malami said he could not do that as it would jeopardize ongoing investigation and court cases on the matter.

At the end of the hearing, the panel chairman, Aliyu Sani Madaki (APC, Kano) said the panel went through all the issues raised and implored all those that are yet to make submissions to do so.

"We also request the interior ministry to present the Permanent Secretary on the next adjourned date. The EFCC has said we should give them a new date. This hearing will end here today but will continue on November 30th."

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