The family of the embattled former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina, on Wednesday confirmed that the State Security Service, SSS, helped the fugitive into the country and provided security for him.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the SSS led by Lawal Daura aided his return to the country and also provided a safe house for him.
Mr. Maina was declared wanted by the anti-graft agency, EFCC, in 2015 for his involvement in an alleged N2 billion pension scandal. Despite being on the run since then, PREMIUM TIMES exclusively reported how he was sneaked into the country, recalled into the civil service in the interior ministry from where he was sacked in 2013, and then promoted.
Since PREMIUM TIMES broke the news of his recall last Friday, Mr. Maina has gone back into hiding. Although his recall has been rescinded by President Muhammadu Buhari, the president is yet to act on a report by the Head of Service on how the fugitive was recalled into the civil service.
The role of the SSS in bringing back Mr. Maina was confirmed by a representative of his family, Aliyu Maina, who told journalists on Wednesday that the fugitive was working with the SSS, also known as DSS.
“Abdulrasheed was in fact invited by this administration and he was promised security to come and clean up the mess and generate more revenue to government by blocking leakages,” the family representative was quoted as saying in Kaduna by Daily Trust newspaper.
“He succumbed to the present administration and came back to Nigeria. He has been working with the DSS for quite some time and he was given necessary security.”
The SSS is yet to speak on the scandal and has no spokesperson to be contacted.
However, investigations by PREMIUM TIMES showed that Mr. Maina’s relationship with the SSS dates beyond the leadership of Mr. Daura and the Buhari administration. Between 2011 and 2013 during the Goodluck Jonathan administration, the agency paid about N152 million into an account controlled by Mr. Maina.
Mr. Maina’s relationship with officials of the SSS during the Goodluck Jonathan administration may have been what President Buhari’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, alluded to on Wednesday when he said some influential officials loyal to the previous government may have been the invisible hand in the latest scandal that saw the return of Mr. Maina to the public service, despite being on the EFCC’s wanted list.
Mr. Shehu, however, assured Nigerians that President Buhari was determined to get to the bottom of the matter of the impunity that led to Mr. Maina’s reinstatement.
“Everything will be uncovered in due course,” he said. “This just goes to show us the scale of corruption that this government is fighting. And, as we can all see, corruption keeps fighting back viciously.”
Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan promptly responded to the presidency’s stance, distancing himself from Mr. Maina’s return and asking the Buhari administration to be courageous in admitting its failures in this scandal.