Mainagate: 20 important questions SSS chief, AGF, HoS, others are yet to answer

Abdulrashid Maina
Former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina

On Thursday, principal officials who played one role or the other in the controversial return and reinstatement of Abdulrasheed Maina appeared before the House of Representatives Committee investigating the scandal.

Mr. Maina went back to hiding after President Muhammadu Buhari ordered his sack and an investigation into his controversial return, The president’s directives followed public outcry by Nigerians after PREMIUM TIMES’ reports on how the ex-civil servant who is still wanted by the anti-graft EFCC was sneaked into the country, promoted, and reinstated.

The Head of Service of the federation, HoS, Winifred Oyo-Ita; Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, Abubakar Malami; Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun; acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu; Director General of the State Security Service, SSS, Lawal Daura; Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris; Comptroller General of the Nigerian Immigration Services, Mohammed Babandede; and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Abubakar Magaji, were some of those quizzed at the hearing.

In succession, the lawmakers questioned the actors on their roles and that of the agencies they represent on Mr. Maina’s scandal. PREMIUM TIMES reported the summary of the presentation of each of the officials.

While the lawmakers tried to ask relevant questions, there are key questions they did not ask the principal actors or which the actors failed to provide adequate answers to.

PREMIUM TIMES highlights some of these key questions in the hope the lawmakers have another chance to raise them.

1. SSS DG, Lawal Daura

Mr. Daura confirmed that he advised the AGF to meet with Mr. Maina in a foreign country. He also admitted that his agency provided security for Mr. Maina, while saying his agency was not briefed by any other agency that Mr. Maina was a fugitive.

The key questions the lawmakers, however, failed to ask Mr. Daura include:

1.     Did Mr. Daura brief President Muhammadu Buhari before advising a minister to meet with a fugitive?

2.     If he did brief the president, what was Mr. Buhari’s stance? If not, why did he not?

3.     Since the SSS has admitted providing security for Mr. Maina; where then is Mr. Maina now? Why has he not been handed over to the EFCC for prosecution especially after the president’s directives?

4.     Despite not being formally notified about Mr. Maina fugitive status, is Mr. Daura saying the SSS as an intelligence agency was not aware of Mr. Maina’s fugitive status?

5.     One of the accusations that has soiled the SSS is that the service between 2011 and 2013 paid N152 million into one of Mr. Maina’s secret account in the name of Cluster Logistics Limited domiciled at Fidelity Bank. Although Mr. Daura had not assumed office then, can he confirm/justify the payment?

6.     What role did the SSS play in bringing Mr. Maina back into Nigeria (Mr. Daura admitted he was in a foreign country before they started providing security for him)? How was he brought back into the country without the Immigration Service, NIS, being aware?

2. EFCC chairman Ibrahim Magu

Mr. Magu admitted that Mr. Maina is still wanted and said the fugitive never voluntarily returned any property to the EFCC.

However, the NIS said the EFCC wrote it in December 2015 to remove Mr. Maina’s name from the no-fly list.

7. Why did the EFCC make such request to the NIS even when Mr. Maina had not surrendered himself?

8. Why did the EFCC not formally notify the SSS of Mr. Maina’s fugitive status especially since the SSS is present at airports and EFCC is not?

9. How would the EFCC describe its intelligence gathering since it took journalists (PREMIUM TIMES) to reveal that Mr. Maina was back in the country and was secretly reinstated?

10. Why did the EFCC have to wait until the public outcry before sealing Mr. Maina’s properties in Abuja and Kaduna?

3. Minister of Justice AGF Abubakar Malami

11. The SSS DG confirmed that the AGF sought his advice before meeting Mr. Maina in a foreign country? Does the AGF report to the SSS DG? Why did he not request his employer, President Buhari’s permission or advice directly?

12. Did the AGF take Mr. Daura’s advice as that of President Buhari? Why?

13. Did the AGF actually meet Mr. Maina? Where? What was discussed?

13. Mr. Maina said in a video that after meeting the AGF he helped him recover about N1.4 trillion for Nigeria. Is it true? Where is the money?

14. Did the AGF formally brief President Buhari of his meeting with a fugitive in a foreign country? If yes what was the president’s response? If no, why not?

15. If the AGF is claiming he did not authorise/sign the letters that emanated from his office, who did? If such is true, does that not indicate that many of such letters may have emanated from the AGF’s office putting the country and its citizens at risk? Has anyone in the AGF’s office been punished for that?

4. Head of Service, HOS, Oyo-Ita

The HOS said the Interior ministry did not wait for her express permission before reinstating Mr. Maina. PREMIUM TIMES had, however, reported how the HoS was always on the loop and actually helped transmit decisions leading to the reinstatement.

16. If the HoS knew Mr. Maina’s reinstatement was wrong, why did she not write or order that the process be stopped.

17. Since she was in the know during the reinstatement process, why did she not formally notify the EFCC to request if Mr. Maina had surrendered himself for trial?

18. Why did the HoS wait until the reinstatement was virtually concluded before verbally notifying President Buhari (based on her own admission)? Also why did she not formally write the president on the matter as is the norm in the civil service?

19. What did President Buhari say after the HoS briefed him of the controversial recall before it was leaked to the public?

20. The Permanent Secretary in the Interior Ministry who accepted blame for the reinstatement, what disciplinary measures will be meted out on him?

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Kemi Busari is a senior reporter covering the Nigerian Senate for PREMIUM TIMES. He has interest in human rights and has won awards for his works, including the Hans Verploeg Award and the PwC Business reporting award. Twitter: @kemi_busari

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