By Inuwa BWALA, Abuja
Nigerians may be good at forgetting issues so quickly, but certainly not the 2012 drama in the Nigerian senator over its committee report on alleged N195 billion fraud allegedly committed by the defunct Presidential Task Team on pension Reforms, headed by one Abdulrasheed Maina, a Deputy Director in the federal Civil Service. In it, the nation watched on national television how Senator David Mark, the then Senate President charged at President Goodluck Jonathan to choose between working with Maina or the Senate. Senator Kabiru Gaya, the then chairman of the committee that investigated the alleged fraud and indicted Maina, was also on the Television, BBC, Voice of America, and several National dailies, where he alleged that arising from their pension probe, his committee discovered that Maina had stolen N195BN from the pensions of various MDAs. Embattled Maina, on his part had escaped assassination attempt, shortly after he was declared a persona non grata by the senate, and ordered to be arrested by the Police, when the vehicle he was riding in was ambushed. Within 36 hours, Nigeria’s civil service, hitherto seen to be slow in acting, had concluded the processes of his dismissal from the civil service, even as a deputy director. Things happened so fast that many Nigerians could not ask questions on their propriety or otherwise. Pronto, Maina approached the Federal High Court Abuja in suit Number FHC/ABJ/CS/65/13, dated 27th April, 2013, presided over by Justice A. Bello, where he got a judgment nullifying all processes that took place during the pendency of the suit (Including the dismissal process and ordered his reinstatement to the service. To date, (Three Years after), the order of the Federal High Court has not been respected and is yet to be obeyed by the institutions concerned. When Maina tried to travel in 2014, he was prevented from doing so, by officers vide a directive from the then CG, Immigration. It was then Maina realized that his name had been on the No-Fly-List. He again headed to the Federal High Court in Suit No. CV/1776/14 dated 23rd Oct, 2014, under Justice O.A. ADENIYI, and got another judgment against the Immigration and Nigeria Police with N2,000,000:00 damages. After series of tussles with other agencies of Government, Maina’s name was again placed on Interpol List, ostensibly, by a Staffer of the EFCC using a Magistrate Court. Since then, he has gone under, patiently waiting for the day he will be vindicated. Maina was to further face several other challenges from other government institutions, as he was haunted, harassed, taunted, listed on the Nigerian Immigration No-Fly-list, dismissed from service, Listed on Police Interpol list, suffered both physical and psychological trauma. He was tagged a thief, a corrupt civil servant, and called all sorts of names, all as a result of the Senate pronouncement. Nigerians did not appear impressed with what he had to say, as they were then, not even ready to listen to Maina’s side of the story. In a dramatic turn of events however, on the 12th April, 2016 the Co-Chairman of the Establishment and Pension Probe Committee of the 7th Assembly, Senator Kabiru Gaya, in an interview he granted The Sun newspaper, seem to have recanted his earlier position on the alleged missing N195 Billion, when he said the money they alleged to have been stolen by Abdulrasheed Maina in various MDAs, in 2012, is in fact, intact in the Federal Government’s Single Treasury Account (TSA) at the CBN in 2016. Even upon the Realization, that they goofed, neither the senate nor its committee deem it fit to apologize to the Nation, Mallam Abdulrasheed Maina in particular, having been singled for persecution, ostensibly for being too rigid and one who could not be compromised, thus crushed to pave way for the looting which he fought against to continue unabated. What many Nigerians have failed to ask senator Gaya includes: How is it that such a huge amount of money said to have been stolen in 2012 is suddenly intact in 2016 and the money is now in the Buhari government’s TSA (at the CBN)? What sort of statesman is he having made an innocent man’s career, integrity and character destroyed. With the feat recorded by Maina before his disgrace, what will Nigerian pensioners regard him, taking into cognizance the fact that Nigerian Pensioners Cried out for so long, but all in vain. What is yet unclear is perhaps the real identities of those after Maina. As for the Government and Nigerians at large , so also the
International Community there is the increasing need to look further beyond these acts and ask questions. Our investigations revealed that Various Pensioners Associations wrote to the Authorities over their predicament since Maina left. In one of such letters to President Muhammadu Buhari and Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, the pensioners expressed their feelings thus: “it is with grim pain, that we write Your Excellences over our plight. It is so sad that we are being owed 46 months Pension arrears, is the enemies of pensioners that organized and dispersed the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT) headed by Mallam Abdulrasheed Maina. “Under the PRTT, our Pensions were stable and getting to our accounts latest 27th of every month, paid directly from the Banks into our accounts. Since the dissolution of the PRTT, we have not been paid our Pension Arrears till date”, they further wrote. “PRTT had a reliable database of Nigeria’s pensioners. Did they not give the Senate probe Committee a copy of the same database to the full glare of Nigerians on national television? We were angry, shocked and peeved when the PTAD claimed they were doing another verification of pensioners, which we gathered gulped billions of Naira. The PRTT had developed a system called E-PMS (E Pension Management System), in which they created E-Smart Cards, which did away with this incessant verification that kills pensioners due to the harsh weather we are subjected to”. Please, we demand you kindly take a critical look at the nation’s pension sector devoid of sentiments and advice from hangers on. You will appreciate that ONLY the PRTT worked in our interests. All the lies that had been woven to kill the PRTT were to create another cabal of pension thieves who substituted the former ones.