SSS confirms arrest of fugitive Abdulrasheed Maina and son

SSS Officials (Photo Credit: Guardian Nigeria)
SSS Officials (Photo Credit: Guardian Nigeria)

Nigeria’s State Security Service (SSS) on Wednesday confirmed its arrest of the former Chairman of the Presidential Task Team on Pension Matters (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina.

In a statement issued by its spokesperson, Peter Afunanya, the agency said it arrested Mr Maina and his 20-year-old son, Faisal, at the Pennsylvania Avenue Hotel, Utako, Abuja, on September 30.

The secret police said Mr Faisal tried to resist arrest after he pulled out a pistol, but was, however, disarmed and arrested.

It further said that the arrest followed a request by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) to the Service to assist in the apprehension of the suspect.

The EFCC had earlier declared Mr Maina wanted over fraud allegations regarding the use of funds meant for Nigerian pensioners.

“Maina was arrested in the company of his 20-year-old son, Faisal Abdulrasheed Maina, who unsuccessfully tried to resist the arrest,” the DSS said.

“The lad even pulled a pistol against the security agents involved in the operation,” the statement read.

“He was, however, disarmed and arrested. He is a final year student at the Canadian University of Dubai where he is studying Telecoms Engineering.

”Items recovered from the suspects include a pistol with live ammunition, a bulletproof Range Rover SUV, a BMW Saloon car, foreign currencies, a Phantom 7 drone, and sensitive documents.”

The SSS further stated that the suspects and the recovered items will be handed over to the EFCC for further investigations and further actions.

The Federal Civil Service Commission had dismissed Mr Maina in 2013 for absconding from duty, following a recommendation by the office of the Head of Service.

On the Run

Mr Maina was in 2012 accused of leading a massive pension fraud scheme amounting to more than N100 billion. Ironically, he had been drafted by the then Goodluck Jonathan administration in 2010 to sanitise a corrupt pension system.

The Senate Joint Committee on Public Service and Establishment and State and Local Government Administration, which investigated the allegations, indicted Mr Maina and issued a warrant of arrest on him.

Mr Maina sued the Senate and the then Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, and thereafter went into hiding after being declared wanted by the police.

He was dismissed from the civil service for allegedly absconding from duty and attempting to evade arrest and charged to court.

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He was on July 21, 2015, charged by the EFCC, alongside the former Head of Service, Stephen Oronsaye, and two others with fraud. While Mr Oronsaye and the two other accused were in court and pleaded not guilty to the charge, Mr Maina remained at large.

Nothing was heard of him until shortly after the emergence of President Buhari in 2015 when members of his defunct Presidential Task Team on Pension Reforms offered to work with the then incoming administration.

The team, which addressed a press conference in Abuja, said its work would be easier under Mr Buhari, known for his anti-corruption stand.

PREMIUM TIMES found in October 2017 that the new government secretly reinstated and promoted Mr Maina.

Amid a nationwide outrage ignited by the disclosure, President Buhari ordered the immediate sack of Mr Maina.

It later became clear Mr Maina was reinstated with the knowledge of the then Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami. The then Head of Service, Winifred Oyo-Ita, said the decision was taken without her approval.

Mrs Oyo-Ita in a leaked memo to the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, said she warned Mr Buhari against the reinstatement.

Mr Maina himself said his reinstatement was ordered by President Buhari.

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