115 days later, Buhari fails to act on Head of Service report on Maina

President Muhammadu Buhari resumes office 5
President Muhammadu Buhari in his office

Nearly four months after he received a detailed report on how Abdulrasheed Maina was readmitted into the civil service, President Muhammadu Buhari has failed to take a definitive position on the controversial matter.

The president’s critics said he is dithering on the report with the hope that Nigerians would soon forget.

But his supporters pointed to his history as a sluggish but thorough leader who would only take decisions after he gets all the facts, to avoid miscarriage of justice on matters of national interest.

Mr. Maina, a career civil servant and a former head of pension reform task force, was surreptitiously recalled by the Buhari administration in September 2017, four years after he was dismissed from service on allegations of gross misconduct and theft of public funds.

The Goodluck Jonathan administration, which fired Mr. Maina, hinged its decision on allegations of corruption against him and his decision to abscond from office rather than clear his name.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission subsequently moved to arrest and prosecute Mr. Maina, who was fired as an assistant director, but he fled at the time.

Since then, Mr. Maina was sparsely seen or heard from until October 20, 2017 when PREMIUM TIMES blew the lid that he had made a questionable return to the civil service.

After taking three days to observe the widespread condemnation that greeted the reinstatement, Mr. Buhari gave the Head of Service, Winnifred Oyo-Ita, a few hours to put a report together, with a detailed explanation of how the fugitive was reinstated.

In the October 23 statement, the president also ordered Mr. Maina’s immediate sack from service, although the legal bases for this were challenged by some constitutional lawyers.

Ms. Oyo-Ita’s report was submitted to the president around 3:00 p.m. the same day.

In her account of how Mr. Maina was recalled, first published by The Punch on October 31, Ms. Oyo-Ita denied allegations by Attorney-General Abubakar Malami and Interior Minister Abdulrahman Dambazau that she knew of the reinstatement.

She also reminded Mr. Buhari that she put him on notice a few weeks earlier that some of his senior officials were scheming to reinstate Mr. Maina to service.

“I sought an audience with His Excellency, Mr. President on Wednesday, October 11, 2017, after the FEC meeting where I briefed His Excellency verbally on the wide-ranging implications of the reinstatement of Mr. A. A. Maina, especially the damaging impact on the anti-corruption stance of this administration,” Mrs. Oyo-Ita said in the memo to Mr. Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari.

The president had ordered that Ms. Oyo-Ita submit the memo to Mr. Kyari’s office.

Since then, the president has neither confirmed nor denied his involvement in the reinstatement as asserted by Ms. Oyo-Ita. He also has not publicly taken any action on the matter.

Presidential spokespersons Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu did not respond to PREMIUM TIMES requests for comments about the president’s silence throughout Wednesday.

But rather than pacify frayed nerves, Mr. Buhari’s silence could actually bolster the claims by critics that he wanted to take the matter completely out of the headlines as he considers a reelection bid.

The president has not openly outlined his political future for Nigerians, but his recent comments have spoken more to his interest in keeping his office than retiring as being increasingly demanded by some political players, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

“In her response, the Head of Service stated that the president was warned that the reinstatement won’t be good on the anti-corruption image of his government,” said political analyst Eluma Asogwa. “But he either rejected the advice or decided to do nothing about it.”

“Undoubtedly, this scandal has become the legendary sword of Damocles on the president’s head,” Mr. Asogwa told PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday night, adding that the reinstatement could doom the president’s reelection if he contests.

Mr. Asogwa, an Abuja-based legal practitioner, said the president’s indictment by the Head of Service was another reason he has been silent over the matter.

“The president was indicted in the report,” Mr. Asogwa said. “That blew away his credibility or moral authority on Maina’s crooked reinstatement.”

“You don’t expect him to shoot himself in the foot by probing further on a wrongdoing he participated in,” he added.

Mr. Asogwa said while Mr. Maina has not been pronounced guilty of any wrongdoing by the court, his refusal to submit himself to the authority for probe remains highly problematic.

“That singular act alone is enough to tell that it would be morally reprehensible to return such a character back into the civil service,” he said.

But Nigerians should not be too quick to castigate the president for not acting on the report over the past four months, said a political analyst, Ayo Akanji.

“The president is very meticulous with his actions when it comes to issues like this. He takes his time to act,” Mr. Akanji, an APC strategist and media consultant for the administration, told PREMIUM TIMES by telephone Wednesday night.

Mr. Akanji said Nigerians should immediately remember that the executive secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme was hastily removed from office, only for the president to reinstate him upon his return.

Mr. Buhari reinstated Usman Yusuf last week, more than six months after the Minister of Health Isaac Adewole suspended him on allegations of fraud.

Mr. Buhari, who was away on extended medical vacation in London when Acting President Yemi Osinbajo approved the suspension of Mr. Yusuf, took the decision despite being aware of a probe report that found Mr. Yusuf culpable of mismanaging public funds.

The NHIS chief strongly denied the allegations, accusing the minister of witchhunting him for introducing modern ideas aimed at reforming the state-run health insurance provider and regulator.

“The former SGF was very close to the president and, when he was found wanting, he was sacked and he was arrested by the EFCC before he later secured bail,” Mr. Akanji said of Babachir Lawal, the controversial Secretary to the Government of the Federation who was accused of stealing funds earmarked for internally displaced persons in the Boko Haram-ravaged northeast. “I think he’s going to act accurately on this Maina issue.”

Besides, Mr. Akanji said Mr. Maina had been cooperating with the Buhari administration in its efforts to recover some missing pension funds.

“He has also helped the administration to have access to a lot of stolen funds. You don’t rush to move against someone like that because of public outcry,” he said. “Nigerians must understand that we have a president who can’t be railroaded but will take his time to take a decision that will benefit all Nigerians.”

The scandal “won’t be a threat to the president if he’s running” for reelection, Mr. Akanji said.


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  • vaale-kupu

    “There were serious allegations of round-tripping against some inner caucus of the Presidency which would seem to have been condoned. I wonder if such actions do not amount to corruption and financial crime, then what is it? Culture of condonation and turning blind eye will cover up rather than clean up. And going to justice must be with clean hands”.

    Olusegun Obasanjo. January 24, 2018.

  • thusspokez

    Nearly four months after he received a detailed report on how Abdulrasheed Maina was readmitted into the civil service, President Muhammadu Buhari has failed to take a definitive position on the controversial matter.

    I don’t understand the importance of any Buhari’s decision in this case. Maina is on the run from law enforcement agencies and no longer in the employment of the Nigerian federal government. The important issue now is the EFCC indictment of Maina.

    • Damian

      Abi, another poor one from PT

    • Otile

      See how your thinking goes, you are equally corrupt. You Buhari minions are the real spolers of one Nigeria. Nonsense

    • shasha

      You are a disgrace to your generation.

    • Sanssouci

      I will reply because I know u r better than this, I honestly suspected that ur account was hacked. Maina did not fall from the sky to get reinstated and doubly promoted, neither did he reinstate himself. His reinstatement is the result of a criminal conspiracy, meaning that whether MAina is on the run or not is irrelevant, I dare say he is even the least of the actors in this gargantuan crime. Decisive action MUST be taken against the perpetrators of the criminal conspiracy. Do you understand now?

      • thusspokez

        Do you understand now?

        With the greatest respect, perhaps, it is you who has not understood my argument properly. Note the subject and ‘topic of discourse’, namely, Maina; and Buhari’s delay in acting on the Head of Service (HofS) report on Maina.

        Neither you nor I know what is in the aforementioned report. Granted, your claim that Maina’s reinstatement is the “result of a criminal conspiracy” is only a speculation or hearsay or both. And the internals of the HofS report is not the subject of my earlier comment. You might well have seem the report yourself, but I can only discuss what I read in this news report before me.

        (Now back to the ‘topic of discourse’). My original argument was that Maina is no longer a government employee and is already in deep problem with the EFCC, and unless the HofS report reveals additional crime(s) committed by him, which merits additional charges be brought against him, Buhari acting on the report cannot make Maina drown more than he is currently drowning, in a manner of speaking, hence my conclusion that Buhari’s decision would be of no real importance to Mr. Maina’s faith.

  • KELLOGGS

    So it is now abundantly clear that Jonathan is also better than Buhari in fighting corruption. Somebody who is too corrupt for Jonathan’s administration was rehired by Buhari.

    • omo56

      Remember, beauty is in the eyes the beholder and “all animals are equal but some are more equal than others”

  • Jimi

    Just wait. The voters will railroad him come 2019 elections.

  • Damian

    Poor report by PT
    Maina has been fired and is currently on the run – what has Buhari got to do with this?

    • Hajiya tunsj soyemi

      SHUT UP! MORON!
      “What has Buhari got to do with this”?
      BUHARI IS EXPECTED TO FIRE THOSE DIRECTLY AND REMOTELY CONNECTED TO THIS DEVILISH REINSTATEMENT..WHICH HE CAN DEDUCE FROM THE HOS REPORT!
      CLOWN!

    • Jones.

      So, is only Maina that’s culpable? What about those cabals who facilitated his re-instatement? It’s clear where you belong – No Future Ambition (NFA); That is why you’re more than prepared to die with this your lacklustre Buhari of a thing.
      Moron.

  • MP-001* [Joint Chief]

    “Nearly four months after he received a detailed report on how Abdulrasheed Maina was readmitted into the civil service, President Muhammadu Buhari has failed to take a definitive position on the controversial matter.”
    ————
    How will you expect him to act when he sanctioned the mans mafia return in the first place. Lets call a spade a spade. We must stop deceiving ourselves with any form of expectations, if anything the reinstatement of the NHIS man should tell you the whole story

  • CHINASA NWACHUKU

    how many years did it take hin to act on the former SSG? you people should please forget this old man

  • Frank Tee

    Most Nigerians know by now that Buhari is just as corrupt as the other politicians. He is just a better pretender. This is the fact that actually irritates other politicians, who know how he acts corruptly with his top aides. We were told during GEJ era that it was corruption that caused fuel scarcity. Now that PMB is the Minister of Petroleum, what is the cause? Is Abba Kyari not a member of the Board of NNPC where Buhari is also the Chairman? Corruption unlimited. As for the Maina issue, the AGF said Buhari was aware. So he knew all along that Maina had been recalled. But as usual, he continues to pretend. Buhari is a dissapointment. He should just go burry his head in shame. Even Zuma has more sense of shame than Buhari.

  • Debekeme

    Deceitful Old Men Of Nigeria (DOMON)

  • Jones

    It is really bad and shameful that a vissibly incapacitated Buhari is hanging on to power when it is obvious he can no longer keep pace with the demand of his office. The question is – is it must? Why can’t this man spare us gross ineffectiveness and inefficiency and return to his Daura farm, where he can conveniently enjoy his tuo and kunu without being disturbed?
    He’s just sitting down there idle, while his foot-soldiers, the fulani herdsmen are busy rampaging, killing innocent people all over the place. Buhari should toe the path of honour by following the example of Jacob Zuma and Ethiopian Prime Minister.

  • Gbade

    I think The Police force should revolt, it was their money that was stolen by kyari, Malami and the rest. Their members protect these thieves and their families daily. I think they should hold them ransom until their pension funds are accounted for and released with immediate effect.

    • omo56

      Why should they revolt whey then can easily replace their stolen money by extortion money from travelers?

  • Steve

    Don’t hold your breathe Buhari will never go against his kinsmen. Go register and get ready for 2019.

  • omo56

    It did not take Buhari a lot of time to replace Mr. Oke (SW), head of SS with another northerner