Mark vows Senate “bite” if Jonathan fails to sack Maina

Senate president said battle line drawn

After nearly a year prodding one of Nigeria’s alleged biggest fraudsters, the Senate, on Wednesday, brushed aside partisan and ethnic divide, with a unanimous resolution asking President Goodluck Jonathan to fire, and prosecute the police pension task team head, Abdulrasheed Maina, accused in a N195 billion pension fraud.

For a 109-member senate, 108 senators filed the motion and passed it, led by the Majority Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba. The exception was the Senate President, David Mark, the presiding officer.

If Mr. Jonathan, who, like past presidents, has flouted past resolutions of the Senate without consequences, ignores this one, the senate will “bite”, Mr. Mark warned, appearing livid during an unusually stormy session.

The president has a choice between Mr. Maina, accused of unimaginable fraud, and the Senate, Mr. Mark said.

“The executive now has to choose between Maina and the Senate, that is the bottom line,” he said. “If they chose to go along with Maina, fine, we will react accordingly. And to extend the hand of friendship is the correct thing to do because we must work together. There is no running away from that one. It is a test case. If Maina remains, then the Senate will react appropriately and I don’t think we are short of ideas nor are we short of what we want to do. We know the step to take.”

“Let me assure you that the Senate has the teeth to bite and it will bite when it is time to bite. Nobody can stop it,” Mr. Mark added.

The senate also ordered the Inspector General of police, Mohammed Abubakar, to appear before it and explain why Mr. Maina has since not been arrested despite senate’s summons.

Mr. Maina has been at the centre of a multibillion police pension scam investigated by the senate since February 2012, with allegations linking him to more than N100 billion of missing savings.

Mr. Maina has denied the charges.

Six federal civil servants are currently facing trial over the scam. A fortnight ago, one of the suspects, Yusuf Yakubu, received a controversial court ruling allowing him to N750,000 in lieu of a two year jail term, after pleading guilty to stealing N2 billion alone.

The ruling sparked outrage, forcing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to initiate fresh charges.

Extending through months, the Senate probe became unusually protracted after the powerful head of the Task Team, Mr. Maina, who was appointed by President Jonathan to sanitize an already corrupt pension system, turned out accused of far bigger fraud, and refused to submit to the investigation.

Lawmakers said Mr. Maina reduced the number of ghost pensioners which he met, and then turned around to introduce his own figures, a means he used to siphon the billions.

Mr. Maina has ignored several summons by the investigating committee-Joint Senate Committee on Establishment, Pubic Service and Local Governments- headed by Aloysius Etok. He has however accused the committee of receiving a N3 billion bribe from him

Senators reject the allegation.

The task force chairman accused the senate committee of bias after the committee issued preliminary reports indicting him; prompting the senate to reject the report, and re-constitute an expanded committee for a fresh evaluation of the case.

Deputy Leader, Abdul Ningi and Chief Whip, Bello Gwarzo, were made part of the review team.

“I said that he (Maina) should be given a fair chance to come and explain himself and expose anybody here who asked him for anything,” Mr. Mark said in detailed narrative.

“If we hurried over it, it could appear as if it is a cover up and I didn’t want to do that. I called the two committee chairmen and I asked them if they have been reading what Maina has been publishing in the pages of paper and I also directed that they should invite Maina, go for a public hearing and get the media houses to be there and let Maina say in the front of the media houses and before this nation to say who asked him for bribe and I think that’s fair.”

While that happened, Mr. Mark said, Mr. Maina sent him petitions, which he replied, insisting he appear before the committee.

The Senate President said he ordered Mr. Maina’s arrest after he repeatedly ignored the committee. For months, Mr. Mark said, the police have returned with multiple excuses on why they could not arrest the pension boss.

In December, the Aloysius Etok-led committee had said it was confronting a cabal more powerful than the notorious fuel subsidy clique, and backed by very top government officials.

“In the performance of pension probe, I realized I have stepped on very powerful toes, I can tell you that pension cabal is worse than oil cabal,” Mr. Etok said.

Somewhat a bullish figure, Mr. Maina shocks the lawmakers with his seemingly arrogant style, walking in and out of meetings on the few times he attends them, addressing the media with accusation he has been asked for bribes, and towing along a large size of security detail including the police and the State Security Service.

Mr. Mark said while the police claimed Mr. Maina could not be arrested, the pension boss continued to hold press briefings. The delayed investigation, he said, was to be fair to Mr. Maina and ensure he was given fair hearing.

“That is the bottom line of this, he has crucified himself,” the senate president said. “We can’t enumerate the sins of Maina, they are too many and like Senator Adeyeye said, when God decided to give people manners, Maina just decided to be absent. There is no phrase that anybody has used on Maina here today that is not correct.”


DOWNLOAD THE PREMIUM TIMES MOBILE APP

Now available on

  Premium Times Android mobile applicationPremium Times iOS mobile applicationPremium Times blackberry mobile applicationPremium Times windows mobile application

TEXT AD:ADVERTISE HERE! CALL 07088095401


All rights reserved. This material and any other material on this platform may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, written or distributed in full or in part, without written permission from PREMIUM TIMES.


  • The truth simply is that GEJ is getting his return from Maina, otherwise..

    • Es3

      All assumptions!
      Let the senate first do a thorough work on this issue before shouting around! Was Maina outside the country that they cannot have law enforcement bundle him to them if they wanted that? Is there any shred of evidence to suggest that Jonthan ordered Police not to execute senate’s warrant on Maina or its a case of the Police that we know very well in Nigeria refuisng to do their work after collecting notes from Maina? People should reason, even ordinarily before writing comments!!!
      What will Jonathan need Maina’s loot for,to buy car or what?
      Senate should know better than to keep ‘ordering’ the President on issues and expect him to respond?! The President is not under the National Assembly neither is the National Assembly under the President. Constitutionally, the President is not bound in anyway by resolutions of the national Assembly and he is only bound to respond to bills thay have passed to be signed into law and Senate and the House should learn to respect that!
      That does not mean that they cannot advise the President, but that would be an advise and not a command! Humans will likely take your advise after reviewing same but if you command, they will only obey if and and only if you have the authority to legally command! Or are we in a jungle? Approach matters a lot on things and I know they know these but just to be lawless???!

  • fineboy

    why wouldnt the presidency protect him, when he used the money recouvred from the pension thiefs to buy bullet proof limosine for them in the villa, cars for small girls he chases around in abuja and maiduguri, as gift to her excellency and “thank you gift to some people in the anti-corrution agencies, the house committe on Pension, where which he gavet over 200 million as DTA to send for an overseas trips in the guise of monitoring of verification excercise, in which he clamed he spent over 500 million naira.

  • Philemon A.

    I am simply perplexed.

  • dave

    Jonathan cannot fight corruption,it is impossible.Nigerians have a choice either to let this goverment continue in 2015 or vote this PDP out.No magic can do it,this is a government without a direction,all we hear are promises and no action.The people in PDP themselves know that this government has failed woefully,but they just defend him for politics sake.

    • Fatrik Luu

      You are not right. It is not everything that the name of Mr. President should be dragged into. There are several agencies responsible for fighting corruption and the President must not come down to file charges, attend courts sessions etc in the name of fighting corruption.

  • Bem Luu

    Too much heat in the polity is not good. The appropriate authorities should put heads together and resolve this issue