Nigeria’s Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, has reacted to an exclusive PREMIUM TIMES story on how the federal government reinstated a sacked civil servant despite a pending corruption trial.
This newspaper on Friday reported how controversial chairman of the defunct Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina, was secretly recalled to the service and promoted to head a directorate in the Interior ministry.
Mr. Maina was in 2013 declared wanted by the Nigeria’s anticorruption agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Checks by PREMIUM TIMES show that Mr. Maina is still on the commission’s wanted list.
“Dark complexioned Maina is allegedly complicit in the over N 2 billion Pensions Biometric Scam in the office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation. He remains at large, after charges were filed against his accomplices,” the EFCC stated on its website.
Mr. Dambazau, in a statement by his press secretary, Ehisienmen Osaigbovo, confirmed that Mr. Maina is now in charge of the Human Resources Department of the ministry.
The minister however denied responsibility for Mr. Maina’s recall to the service.
The statement explained that Mr. Maina “was posted few days ago to the Ministry of Interior by the Office of the Head of Service on an Acting capacity to fill a vacancy created following the retirement of the Director heading the Human Resources Department in the Ministry”.
The minister blamed Mr. Maina’s recall on the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation and the Federal Civil Service Commission.
He said the two bodies are responsible for “issues relating to Discipline, Employment, Re-engagement, Posting, Promotion and Retirements of Federal Civil Servants.”
The statement did not say if Mr. Dambazau was aware Mr. Maina is still a fugitive wanted by the EFCC.
“It is understood that Maina’s last posting was with the Ministry of Interior, and that is probably why he was re-posted back to the Ministry,” the statement added.
Trouble started in 2012 when Mr. Maina was accused of leading a massive pension fraud scheme amounting to more than N100 billion. Mr. Maina, was drafted by the Goodluck Jonathan administration in 2010 to sanitize a corrupt pension system.
Based on the allegation of corruption, Mr. Maina was invited by the Senate Joint Committee on Public Service and Establishment and State and Local Government Administration.
The Senate after completion of its investigation issued a Warrant of Arrest against Mr. Maina.
Ignoring the panel, Mr. Maina went ahead to sue the Senate and the then Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, and thereafter went into hiding after being declared wanted by the police.
Consequent upon this, Mr. Maina was dismissed by the Head of Service for allegedly absconding from duty and attempting to evade arrest and charged to court.
He was on July 21, 2015 mentioned by the EFCC as a major accomplice in a 24-count charge filed against Stephen Oronsaye and two others before a Federal High Court bordering on procurement fraud and obtaining by false pretence.
While Mr. Oronsaye and the two other accused were in court and pleaded not guilty to the charge, the EFCC said Mr. Maina was at large.
Mr. Maina is said to have spent these past years in the United Arab Emirates, from where he kept lobbying to win the pleasure of the Buhari administration.