*Where is the N35bn stolen after Maina’s sack?
*Why Senate conspired to ‘kill’ Maina
*EFCC, ICPC complicities exposed
By Olajide Fashikun
Unknown to many Nigerians, there are so many behind the scene issues involved in the current media trial of Abdulrasheed Maina. There has been a lot of distortion of facts and sometimes outright blackmail, all in an attempt to discredit the PRTT boss even now.
Nigerians will not forget that Sani Shuaibu Tiedi, former director of pension in the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, who has been on prosecution for almost seven years now along with 31 others, alleged that Senator Alloysius Etuk, the chairman of the panel that was to try Maina and other members of the Senate committee allegedly collected a bribe of N3billion from him.
In petitions one of Teidi’s aide made to the EFCC and ICPC, Mr. Tiedi had said he paid the money to Senator Etuk in foreign currency and that the bribe was meant to prevent their prosecution. He told investigators that he equally bribed Farida Waziri, former Chairman of the EFCC. Why has the two anti-graft agencies not investigated this matter? Why are they after the man who caught the ‘thieves’ and are not after the ‘thieves’?
For those who followed the whole developments, there has been a lot of deliberate cover in a well written script to give Maina a bad name. If Maina stole, it certainly cannot be from the PRTT. Those who worked in the PRTT do ‘kabu-kabu’ to augment their survival. They were severely starved of funds.
The reasons are simple. Maina’s PRTT was a clog in the wheel of so many who were looting the pensioner’s funds. Maina’s PRTT was brought in to sanitise a very corrupt pension system. It was the success of his pension system in the Ministry of Interior that brought him to the PRTT. Many Nigerians will not forget that for years, aged pensioners suffered and even died roaming the streets of Abuja while waiting for their pensions.
Senator Kabiru Gaya: Emerging evidence has shown that Maina is just a victim of the popular saying, that when you fight corruption, corruption will fight back. In a hurry to crucify Maina, the Senate committee did what could best be described as a hatchet job. They told the nation he stole N195billion. On 13th April 2016, former Kano Governor, Kabiru Gaya, told TheSun newspaper in an interview that that money was never missing. So, why is he being tried for the money that is now confirmed is not missing?
For those who understand the structure of the task force, they will let you know that Maina like none of them therein never had access to the pension fund and could never have taken one Naira lest over N2 billion.
Former finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala during a Senate meeting said that Maina had no contact with funds and revealed how she froze the account where the monies recovered by Maina’s committee was kept and how she transferred the funds to the CBN.
EFCC, ICPC complicity against Maina: But the question is why will the EFCC continue to hound a man for an offence which they know he is innocent of? Besides, Maina was only the head of the team which comprised of EFCC, ICPC, DSS, NIA, office of Accountant General, Auditor General Public Complaints Commission etc. He was the only civilian in the Task Team.
Perhaps, Maina was just a victim of high power play of some powerful individuals in high places, who at some point got irritated for his refusal to ‘share the money’. So, for three years, Maina suffered what has become known in Nigeria’s anti-corruption war as ‘media trial’ – where a man is found guilty several times on the pages of newspaper.
Despite the several facts presented before the Senate committee during the hearing, the committee chose to ignore the facts. They threatened President Godluck Jonathan. Maina was shot with five bullets wounds on the side glass of the bullet proof car Jonathan gave him.
Mr. Maina said he had “verifiable” evidence the federal pension scheme was returning to “the looting era” which his team set out to end, with an alleged 98% of pensioners denied their benefits since November, 2012.
Another N35billion stolen from Head of Service: As soon as Maina was driven to exile before the coming of the PTAD, N35billion was stolen in the Head of Service. The ICPC did not come out with the report. How come no body is talking about these monies?
Those who know will recall Maina telling the media in a briefing that “the process of preparing for payments, had been “desperately hijacked” by Mr. Sali, (former Head of Service) whom he accused of refusing to sign documents completed by his team, the Pension Reform Task Team, since November 2012.
It is surprising to note that when the Pension Team concluded paper-work preparation for the payment of November, 2012 monthly pension, as usual, the PRTT sent it to the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Alhaji Bello Isa Sali, who usually approves the payment without delay; but could not attend to it, and with no official communication to date,” Mr. Maina said in a statement.
“As soon as the current Senate issues erupted,” he added, “the Pension Team wonders why Alhaji Sali facilitated the hijacking of the payment which would ruin the Federal Government pension transformation agenda.”
The question is why the Senate committee didn’t look into these allegations.
The skewed Senate report: However, the most outrageous claim in the senate report is that the task team’s assertion that it had helped the nation saved any money is false. The report stated that what the team claimed it had saved were unspent funds. But even the Minister of Finance has publicly announced that the task team saved the government about N282 billion, out which N74billion were incorporated into year 2013 budget.
The Senate closed its eyes to the over N3.3billion that was being collected monthly at the head of service for over 73,000 fake pensioners and being stolen by civil servants. The case against Teidi and others arise from this monumental scam. But for the task team exposing them for prosecution, they would have stolen more than N70billion in the last two years.
N1billion stolen monthly: In the police pension office, the team had also saved the N1billion that was being siphoned monthly in the guise of paying the pension and gratuity of retired police officers.
Also, through the work of the team, over N30billion in cash and assets have so far been seized from pension thieves in the office of the head of service and the police pension office alone. But due to their prosecution, the seized funds cannot yet be returned into government coffers. Besides this however, the team has also been able to discover the mainly illegally opened accounts into which pension funds were deposited before they were stolen.
Monies hidden in banks: In the office of the Head of Service, another N35 billion was discovered in some 66 illegal bank accounts. If the accounts had not been discovered, the funds would equally have been looted. There is also a six million pound account kept in accounts in London known to only a few top civil servants in different offices who were also allegedly drawing the interest on the account. That account is still subsisting.
In all, the task team since June 2010 when it was constituted saved the country about N282 billion that would have been pilfered. The Senate committee, it appears, for some reason, has castigated the team from doing that.
The Senate report made other alarming allegations of financial mismanagement against members of the task team without basis. For example, the team is accused of engaging in “numerous contracts splitting in order to beat the approval limit and avoid contract tender process one company was allegedly awarded a contract worth of N145 million split into units and that the funds spent were not appropriated for that purpose.
But the truth is that the team never awarded any contract because it did not have the powers to do so. The question of spending limit therefore does not arise. Even ream of paper and tissue papers were supplied from the Office of the Head of Service.
However, the report goes on to destroy the work of the task team which came to address and rectify all the anomalies. In the process, the Senate committee made allegations and claims against the team, which documents in the possession of www.gongnews.net contradict.
In spite of its earlier observation that yearly verification exercise were carried out to siphon money, the committee quarrelled with the team’s conduct of a biometric capturing exercise which has forever removed the necessity for any further verification.
Through the biometric exercise, the team has come up with smart cards for every pensioner with which they can be verified without going to queue for hours unnecessarily.
The report alleged that the team conducted another biometric exercise in spite of the fact that the pension office had already conducted up to 90% of a similar exercise for the year at the cost of N234 million.
The Senate committee equally falsely alleged that the team embarked on the biometrics without data or files from the pension office, only relying on documents submitted by pensioners. Due to this, the report further alleged that the names of aged pensioners whose documents had been lost or misplaced were removed from the pension payroll.
The task team therefore declared aged pensioners (some of whom have received their pension for up to 20 years) as ghost pensioners thereby removing 71,133 names of pensioners from the payroll and reducing the list of pensioners from 141,790 to 70,657.’
However, documents which were also made available to the Senate joint Committee, show that this is a deliberate falsification of facts. The over 71,000 names removed from the payroll are the same fake and ghost pensioners that the committee acknowledge exist in its findings.
The task team went to the 36 states of the federation but many of the fake pensioners stayed away because the team went with security officials. A few of the ghost pensioners were actually arrested.
What Next? It is important that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari re-open investigation into the pension scam. The good thing that has come out of this is that Mr Abdulrasheed Maina has been able to expose the truth behind the scene. He levelled bribery allegations against some highly placed Nigerians such as the former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Lamorde, Senator Aloysius Etuk who should have been exercising Senate oversight on pension amongst others.
It is important that all those who have been mentioned be investigated for the role they all played. Maina deserves a fair hearing; otherwise we may discourage good men from serving their fatherland.
The several recoveries made by the Maina led PRTT were deposited into
- Zenith bank 1012665485
- EcoBank 0310100235906501
- Oceanic Bank 0005718068
- GT Bank 0052247917
- Access Bank 0007380444
It is apt to state the obvious fact that the PRTT which Maina superintended over did not have a budget but relied on releases from the Presidency through the Head of Civil Service. Ask me where were these people when Maina took the touted N2billion? From which source did Maina got the fund? I can authoritatively say that the Team was starved of fund to the extent that the Consulting Team was disbanded for lack of fund to operate.
Maina was investigated by The Police which initially he indicted through the operations of his team (PRTT) yet you wished he will obtain fairness. You must be joking! There are at least 3 eminent Nigerians who are alive to speak for Maina. They are Dr (Mrs) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (then Minister of Finance and Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy), His Eminence Sanusi Mohammed III (then CBN governor and current Emir of Kano) and HE Goodluck E Jonathan (then President and CinC).
Figures don’t lie as they abound everywhere. One of the culprits exposed by Maina’s team was convicted by the court of prison terms or option of N700,000 fine to the FG and he had long regained freedom. Several properties were seized in Abuja, Idah and Lagos valued at several billions of Naira but was given light prison sentence because he can afford it. “Chai, there is God o!” courtesy of Mama Peace.
Public inquiry is best way out for Buhari: The President and Commander-in-Chief, Muhammadu Buhari, will do a good service to Maina, Nigeria and Nigerians if he could make everybody to be heard in the glare of the Public.
The best would be a high powered panel of inquiry that should have its proceedings in the glare of camera like Justice Chukwudifu Oputa panel.
Anything short of this will be like burying a giant and leaving his leg in the surface. The Senate and the House of Representatives CANNOT be judges in their own case. They have been shown to be interested parties. Some of their past and present members have their hands deep in the cookie jar. What with the N3billion paid out in Dollars? What with the detailed specifics of how Senator Alloysius Etuk is alleged to have re-stolen from Mr Shaibu Teidi? (Tomorrow we shall publish the petition in question to refresh your memories).
Summary dismissal is tantamount to paying good with evil and calling a dog a bad name to hang it. I heard from the grapevine that Maina has a N2billion property in Jabi District of Abuja. So claimed the EFCC. There is a flying rumour that one of the lawyers calling for Maina to be buried alive ‘bought’ one of the 222 houses Maina handed to the EFCC. How? This is why the EFCC CANNOT be a party in prosecuting Maina. They are also an interested party.