Maina fights back, says Etuk committee grossly misinformed Senate

The pension boss has been declared wanted by the Nigerian police.

The embattled chairman of the Presidential Task Team on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina, has accused the Senate pension probe committee, headed by Aloysius Etuk, and his deputy, Kabir Gaya, of “raising spurious” allegations against the Team simply because the two senators “bitterly hate the Pension Task Team with an intense emotion”.

A statement, Sunday, by the spokesperson to Mr. Maina, Hassan Salihu, said there are no established facts to support the allegations of misappropriation of about N195 billion against Mr. Maina.

“The Distinguished Senate Pension Probe Committee has grossly misinformed and misled the entire Senate with a fictitious report muddled up with a multitude of naked untrue and misleading unjustifiable conclusions against the Pension Reform Task Team,” Mr. Salihu said.

Task Team has no budget

The statement said the National Assembly has never appropriated money to the Pension Task Team and so it is not possible for the team to have mis-appropriated what has not been appropriated.

“It is important for Nigerians to equally know that since the inauguration of the Pension Team in June 2010 to date, the National Assembly has never appropriated ONE NAIRA for the Pension Reform Task Team in its Appropriation Acts of 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Where and how the Pension Team could have misappropriated funds when nothing has been appropriated to it by the National Assembly?” Mr. Salihu asked.

He added that the Task Team is not a statutory body, which implies that the Head of Service of the Federation is the only one with exclusive rights for expenditure control of his Office.

“All financial or material engagements of the Task Team are subject of approvals from the Head of Civil Service of the Federation. There is no period when the Chairman of the Pension Task Team who is an ordinary ‘Assistant Director’ became the Head of Civil Service of the Federation?” the statement noted.

The statement also noted that the Pension Task Team has no power of approval of any cash over the pension offices that it has so far structured.

“The Pension Task Team has not yet been provided operational budget neither has it any bank account to date,” Mr. Salihu said.

We deal with papers only

The Task Team also said it only deals with paper work to compute pensioners’ entitlements, after which it sends them to the office of the Head of Service for approval.

“Nigerians should note that the Team is not in custody of recovered funds; the recoveries are executed by Anti-graft agency where applicable.

“The functions of the Pension Team are mainly to restructure and cleanse the system through biometrics capturing, processing of payments of genuine pensioners and blocking loopholes that are prone to corrupt practices. The Team has delivered these responsibilities to the best interest of this Country,” Mr. Salihu said.

The Senate last week gave President Goodluck Jonathan two days to sack Mr. Maina for his refusal to appear before its committee.

The Senate also directed the Inspector General of Police to arrest Mr. Maina, whom the police later declared wanted.

Mr. Salihu was silent on why the pension boss went into hiding or when he would surrender himself for questioning.

President Goodluck Jonathan has said he lacks the power to sack the pension boss. He, however, gave the Head of Service the directive to apply appropriate sanctions on Mr. Maina.

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