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Maina was part of pension syndicate before crackdown – AGF affirms

Maina was part of pension syndicate before crackdown – AGF affirms

Abubakar Malami, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) on Thursday admitted that the erstwhile chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, was part of the pension syndicate in the Federal Civil Service of the Federation.

Malami stated this at the investigate public hearing held at the instance of the House of Representatives in Abuja.

According to the Chief Law Officer of the Federation, arising from the investigation conducted by the office of the AGF, some legislators, highly placed civil servants and the National Union of Pensioners, were all involved in the pension syndicate.

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He added that the pension rackets were perpetuated in various MDAs including the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) Nigerian Postal Services (NIPOST) the Nigerian Railways Corporation, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) the Police and Military, among others.

He said the syndicate operated nine accounts where the sum of N200 million was deposited monthly adding that the crackdown on the syndicate led to the recovery of 270 real estate properties and vehicles, $300 million and €3,500.

Malami denied knowledge of two previous letters purportedly issued in March 2017 and April 2017 for the reinstatement of Maina into the Federal Civil Service.

He, however, argued that the “only letter that I can confirm was that of 17th January 2017. The letter intended to be abreast of the situation on the ground.

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“As at 5th October 2017, Maina’s issue before my office was a work in progress, not concluded.” He further stated, “as at 21st February 2017 the letter (of reinstatement) couldn’t have genuinely emanated from my office.”

On her part, Winifred Oyo-Ita, Head of Civil Service of the Federation, noted that the original letter sent by the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) is still in her custody.

She further disclosed that she resolved to withhold Maina’s reinstatement letter to enable her to get certain clarifications from relevant agencies of government on the circumstances surrounding Maina.

Oyo-Ita who denied knowledge about the purported ruling from the National Industrial Court (NIC) alluded to in the letter from the AGF’s office, argued that “no ministry has the authority to issue a reinstatement letter. When I learnt of the reinstatement by the Ministry of Interior from the Chief of Staff, I wrote a letter to the Permanent Secretary.”

According to her, Abubakar Magaji, Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Interior in his response to the query issued by the Head of Service, admitted that he acted based on the letter sent to him by the Commission.

She, however, noted that another letter was sent to Magaji in which she pointed out that Magaji acted in error, as the Commission’s letter only serves as ‘notification’ of the Commission’s resolution.

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In his remarks, Muhammad Sani Katu, counsel to Maina, disclosed that his client (Maina) had been receiving salaries and emoluments, despite being sacked for years.

Katu added that Maina had “continued to work even after his dismissal. As at last month, about 23 files were sent to him, in his capacity as Acting Director, even while he was absent.”

He further explained that Maina had to disappear because “there was a serious threat to his life.”

Oluremi Akande, acting FCSC Chairman who confirmed receipt of the three letters written from the office of the AGF, observed that the Commission issued the reinstatement letter to Maina based on the directive issued by the AGF and Minister of Justice.

He, however, noted that the reinstatement letter was sent to the Head of Service of the Federation, who has the statutory responsibility of transmitting the letter to Maina.

Akande noted that the Commission did not reinstate Maina to level 17 and disclosed that Maina’s was dismissed following his failure to respond to a query issued to him by the Commission, based on the recommendations of the Senior Staff Committee set up by the Federal Ministry of Interior as provided in the Civil Service Rules.

Ibrahim Idris, Inspector-General of Police (IGP) who was represented by Valentine Tochukwu, Deputy-Inspector General of Police (DIG) Research and Planning Division, argued that the Police played no role whatsoever in the issue of Maina’s reinstatement.

He added that the Police did not know the circumstances that led to his removal as chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, as well as his appointment.

Speaking earlier, Ali Madaki, chairman, Ad-hoc Committee investigating Maina’s disappearance, reappearance and reinstatement into the Federal Civil Service assured that the House would unravel the circumstances that led to Maina’s reinstatement.

He said the House derived its powers to conduct an investigation into the matter in line with the provisions of sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

Ruling on the submissions made by all the parties, Madaki directed all the invited parties, including the Permanent Secretary of Federal Ministry of Interior to appear before the Ad-hoc Committee, unfailingly, on Friday, 30th November 2017.

 

KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja