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Revealed: Jonathan sacked Maina only reluctantly

*He declined to prosecute him

From Ngozika Ihuoma

I can say with authority that actually, President Goodluck Jonathan literally allowed Abdulrasheed Maina walk free in 2013 in spite of a Senate resolution urging him to prosecute the former pension reform boss. This is because the President knows the whole truth about the saga.

Maina was a Assistant Director at the Customs, Immigrations, and Prisons Pension Office (CIPPO) in the Ministry of Interior. His sterling management of the Ministry’s pension earned him recommendations to Steve Oronsaye, then Head of Service of the Federation, in 2010.

MAINA’S SACK… FORCED BY THE SENATE

The Senate committee that was set up to probe the fraud almost got frustrated, as Maina refused to cooperate with its members. They got their hands soiled in the allegation of collecting N3billion from six of the 43 pension suspects who each contributed N500m to earn soft landing from prosecution.

The committee concluded its sitting and directed Mohammed Abubakar, Inspector-General of Police at the time, to arrest and prosecute Maina. The Senate committee also urged President Jonathan to disengage Maina from the civil service.

In fact, on 14th February, 2013, David Mark, then Senate President, gave Jonathan 48 hours ultimatum to sack Maina or face dire consequences.

“The Executive has to choose between the Senate and Maina. If Maina remains, then the Senate would react appropriately,” Mark was reported as saying at the time.

“The Senate is not lacking in ideas on what to do. Nobody in this country is bigger than our democracy. I have been extremely patient with Maina, so that when we react, they will know that we have been fair.

“Whether the Police are serious about [arresting] Maina is something we are going to find out. This Senate is not going to allow this to linger on, if in two days they have not done anything, we can come here and convene and take a decision.

“This Senate has teeth to bite, the Senate will bite when it needs to bite and when we decide to bite, there will be no room for escape.

“We have been pushed to the wall. The reaction is the correct reaction; no matter the depth of the Maina situation, nobody in this country will be left to go free if he is associated with Maina. No matter who is behind Maina, we are not going to accept it.”

The Senate then went ahead to adopt three motions moved by Victor Ndoma-Egba, the Senate Majority Leader, as follows:

  • “That Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina be dismissed from the Public Service of the Federal Republic of Nigeria immediately and be disengaged from all acts relating to public duty.
  • “That the Inspector General of Police appears before the Senate Committee on Police Affairs to give reasons why he did not act on the warrant issued by the President of the Senate.
  • “That Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina be investigated and prosecuted.”

However, reacting to the Senate resolution, Hassan Salihu, then spokesperson of the PRTT, said Maina was being persecuted despite having served the country with honesty and sincerity.

“Maina has never committed any offence to deserve this high level of persecution, even if he is an Assistant Director,” Salihu stated.

“We have done this assignment in the best interest of this country with all sincerity and honesty. It is only God that will save Nigeria.”

But in spite of the strong-worded resolutions by the Senate, Jonathan refused to act on the recommendations against Maina.

MAINA SACKED IN 24 HOURS

By 1st March 2013, and within 24 hours the extremely slow bureaucracy acted like a thief on the run and sacked Maina in 24 hours! He was quietly removed at CIPPO.

Maina’s replacement was eventually made official  a week later on the 8th March, 2013. Olabisi Jaji, was posted from the Ministry of Environment to replace him, while Elizabeth Zenetini, from the Ministry of Agriculture, was appointed as her deputy.

JONATHAN SILENT ON PROSECUTION

Curiously, nothing was heard from Jonathan with regards to Maina’s prosecution in keeping with the recommendations of the Senate. On the contrary, Maina enjoyed executive protection, but was only eased out of service to avoid a looming head-to-head clash between the Presidency and the National Assembly.

In fact, anti-corruption sources say that in the early days of Maina’s disappearance, Jonathan was “fully aware” of his location.

Until he left office in 2015, there was no single time Jonathan showed interest in prosecuting Maina. Had the National Assembly not been recalcitrant in its demand for Maina’s sack, the ex-pension boss would still have remained in service.

Hon Ihuoma was a former member of the House of Representatives and Executive Secretary of Legislative Watch

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