*Service of fatherland and scapegoatism
From Adeolu Edward
Fellow Nigerians, it has been a while I served you my loud thoughts about Nigeria due to the unending melodramatic scenarios of my dear Nation – NIGERIA.
I watched in utmost despair the state of the Nation, the economy, the NNPC comedy, the parties, the declaration by my Ekiti brethren, the clampdown on some media houses, the Crocodile dance, the Python dance, the making of Gani Adams and the list is unending.
I broke this silence when Abdulrasheed Maina resurfaced in the news. I am not a friend of this man but I have a clue to what has been fighting him. Does the name sound familiar? ABDULRASHEED MAINA was the Chairman of the then Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT). It was a creation of President Goodluck Jonathan to reform the pension matters that brought the messiest mess on the country Nigeria some few years back.
. The function of the Pension Reform Task Team is to:
- Move into Pension offices with its forensic expertise and supporting agencies like DSS, EFCC, ICPC, Auditor General office, Accountant General’s office to identify and block leakages.
- Assist the Federal Ministry of Finance to mop up excess funds
- Establish an efficient and functional e-payment management system, and also to carry out a comprehensive restructuring of these pension offices for successful implementation of Pension Reform Task Team’s set recommendations
- Shortlist, train and assign capable and credible officers after screening by the DSS, ICPC, EFCC as management
- Recommend for establishment Corporate Governance Policies and framework, and also facilitate the setting up of the Pension Board.
In the wisdom of the PRTT, it added to its mandate, development of a grassroots based Pensioners-Complaints system where pensioners would no longer have to travel more than 100kilometres for solutions to their plight.
Maina was then a Deputy Director in the Ministry of Interior specifically in charge of Customs, Immigration, Prisons Pension Office (CIPPO). He was able to clean the unit to the admiration of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation. The cleansing earned him a laurel which means additional work, more responsibility and the inclusion of several Departments including the Police Pensions Office (PPO).
The then President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan saw the good work he did in CIPPO and so appointed Maina to head the PRTT. This was an appointment that marked the beginning of Maina’s travails. Little did Maina know that the Police Pension Office is the most delicate office to clean, because his travails started here.
Let me quickly remind you that I was in a team that was brought in to do a quick forensic about the Pension stuff and our discovery was bizarre. Under the old pension scheme, the Government’s liabilities to about the entire 130,000 pensioners kept increasing year on year basis whereas it was meant to decrease due to exit of old pensioners who are departing from this world and automatically exiting the scheme.
Our discovery was that there was a syndicate which recruits “pseudo pensioners” whose ages range from between 22 years and 87 years. They bestowed upon the recruited pensioners accounts in as many as 10 banks with phoney names and mutilated account details and numbers. What do I mean? For example Ajekiigbe Adamu Ahmed may transform into 1. Ajekiigbe Ahmed 2 Ajekiigbe Adamu 3 Adamu A Ahmed 4 Ahmed Adamu 5 Ahmed A Adamu 6
Ajekiigbe A Ahmed 7 Adamu Ajekiigbe A 8 Ahmed A Ajekiigbe and more.
This man has been duplicated into a minimum of eight (8) persons. Where the ingenuity of this syndicate comes to play is in the manipulation of account numbers. This man will be represented as 8 pensioners and his details will appear in eight banks.
But his account number will be mutilated through juxtaposition of digits, juggling of figures and several others. Since the remita is the platform deployed for the payment of the pension benefits, any incorrect account detail will be rejected and the money retained in suspense. Few days later, the representative will approach the banks that the office of the Head of Service has been approached by the people whose pensions were rejected on the platform due to the incorrect particulars which ab-initio was planned and well hatched. The monies will be transferred by the banks into a dedicated account where cheques are written and gbam the job is concluded. Whatever becomes the fate of the monies, your guess is as good as mine.
This was done either in connivance with the Head of Service or some unscrupulous individuals who will do anything to make money.
Another example is the entire Police Pensions monthly figure was around N520m but reduced to N462.5m while 19,582 pensioners was presented by the Police Pensions Office and after the forensic audit there was 17,568 police pensioners and the government was saved N56m monthly. It was during the exercise that I discovered that Lagos State has the highest number of retired policemen within the scheme.
But whereas some pensioners barely receive a paltry sum of N1,972.65 as monthly pension there is a particular pensioner who receives about N111,837.09 as monthly receipt in two accounts in defunct Afribank Plc. The recipient was never a retired IG to have received such huge amount.
There are some achievements credited to Maina which include:
- Introduction of E-Pension No and Card
- Recovery of £35m stashed in a foreign account for Pensioners
- Discovery of the Pension Scam Syndicate
- Blockade of leakages in the Pension Scheme
- Provision of funding for the Budget
- Recovery of over N522b to float the economy.
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
Part of the monies recovered were used to fund the 2012 budget. The then Minister of Finance is alive to corroborate or deny this fact.
I am not a defender of Maina but trying to shed light on the transaction and I can be quoted anywhere anytime.
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. The PRTT was made of representatives of DSS, EFCC, ICPC, The Presidency, The Police, The Accountant General of the Federation and The Auditor General of the Federation.
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’s crime could be because he deployed funds from his main office –Customs Immigration Prisons Pension Office (CIPPO) to finance the PRTT.
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 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.
Where are the past Heads of Civil Service of the Federation who supervised the pension syndicate for as long as it lasted before Maina discovered the sham? Haba Nigeria I hail Thee.
The President and Commander-in-Chief will do a good service to Maina if he could be heard in the glare of the Public. But where it is not feasible, since he has been disengaged from service, he could address a Press Conference through his Attorneys or Solicitors.
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. The onus of proof is on him but many people of his cadre possess more in Nigeria.
How was Maina re-entered into the country after he was declared wanted some years ago? How was he recalled, re-absorbed into Civil Service and posted to Ministry of Interior? Questions unending!
The FG would have done Maina good if he is allowed to present his case in a public glare instead of shoving him out of service. But now that he has been disengaged from service, he would not have flouted any Civil Service Rules by getting his voice heard through Press conference and every available platforms.
For the service of Nigeria, Maina has turned a scape goat to be taunted, hunted and haunted. God save me from the hoax.
Note: Facts are sacred and my thoughts are not in defence of Maina but saying the obvious.