Any trip fugitive Abdulrasheed Maina has made outside Nigeria since September 2013 was illegally and clandestinely made, the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, said on Thursday.
The Comptroller-General of the NIS, Mohammed Babandede, on Thursday said Mr. Maina, the embattled former chairman of the presidential task force on pension reforms, has not travelled out of the country since 2013, at least through the nation’s airports.
Speaking at an investigative hearing set up by the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee on his controversial reinstatement and promotion, Mr. Babandede also said the pension scandal fugitive has the dual citizenship of Nigeria and the United States of America.
PREMIUM TIMES on October 20 broke the story of Mr. Maina’s controversial return to civil service after years of being on the run, sending shockwaves through the nation and placing the administration’s conduct under renewed public criticism and scrutiny.
Mr. Maina was dismissed from service in 2013 during the Goodluck Jonathan administration for absconding from office following allegations that he diverted billions in public funds for his own use when he headed the pension reform task force.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission subsequently moved to arrest and prosecute him; but Mr. Maina, who was fired as an assistant director, bolted from the law.
He was believed to have fled to Dubai, where he had remained until some officials of the Buhari administration allegedly facilitated his return under questionable circumstances this year.
While being questioned on Thursday, the Comptroller-General of Immigration explained that Mr. Maina did not leave Nigeria through any of its legal boundaries or airports since 2013.
“We have checked our records and we have not seen a single name of Maina pass through our airports since 2013 when he was blocked; so the record available to us shows that Maina has not been travelling.
“If he has been travelling, then it means he has not been travelling through an airport we can see. By law, if you pass through a border you are entitled to report to an immigration officer. So if Maina has been travelling from 2013 till date, we don’t know. If he has been passing through borders he has not reported to an immigration officer. As far as we are concerned, Maina has not been travelling since 2013,” Mr. Babandede said.
He also said Mr. Maina has three passports and a dual citizenship.
“We knew about Maina from 27 September 2013 when he was leaving the country and he was stopped at the Murtala Mohammed international airport because of the letter from EFCC.
“Prior to that time, Maina was never in our stop list. He has been a frequent traveller across airports. He has 3 passports. An official passport which has expired and has not being renewed; a standard passport which is currently valid till 2018 and an American passport.
“So in an addition to being a citizen of Nigeria, he is also a citizen of America. He has a valid U.S. passport which will be expiring on 26 August 2022.”
The immigration chief also explained that at some point, Mr. Maina’s name was removed from the stop list.
“On December 1st 2015 the EFCC gave us a letter directing us to remove his name from the stop list, which we removed. But when the case of Maina started and a directive was given by the president that he should be probed, we blocked his name again in our stop list. We blocked all his passports which means he cannot reissue his passport any longer and he cannot pass through our recognised borders.”