The All Progressives Congress (APC) has said the reinstatement of Abdulrasheed Maina, former Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, into the Federal Civil Service, was an embarrassment to the Federal Government.
National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, stated this while speaking with newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja.
He said that the development was unacceptable and also embarrassing to the party.
Maina was said to have been dismissed from the Federal Civil Service for abandoning his duty post and evading arrest for his involvement in the looting of pension funds to the tune of N100 billion.
“We are all shocked like any other person. It is almost unbelievable that such a thing can happen.
“However, we are all delighted that President Muhammadu Buhari has taken very decisive punitive action against those that are involved.
“We are also delighted that he has ordered full scale investigation into the circumstances that led to this individual to be reinstated into the public office,’’ he said.
Abudullahi said that the APC believed that those that were part or found to be part of the development would face appropriate consequences.
He, however, debunked insinuations that the president was shielding the suspended Secretary to Government of the Federation, Mr Babachir Lawal and the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Mr Ayo Oke, over corruption investigation.
The APC spokesman expressed confidence that the president would do what was necessary and right under the situations in the best interest of the nation.
“Action will definitely be taken on them. I think we should just be kind and wait for the president to take action on that before we come to the conclusion that he has not acted,’’ he said.
Despite being on the run after being declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for alleged corruption, embattled former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reform, Abdulrasheed Maina, was provided federal security cover, PREMIUM TIMES can report today.
Investigators have found that for months, Mr. Maina received protection from operatives of the Nigeria Police Force and the State Security Service (SSS). The SSS also provided secret accommodation for him.
Mr. Maina is currently at large and did not report to duties on Monday at the Ministry of Interior where he was recently posted to.
The spokesperson of the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, said the agency was intensifying its search for Mr. Maina.
The fresh search was triggered by a PREMIUM TIMES report on Friday detailing how the former pension boss, who fled Nigeria in 2013, sneaked back into the country and was reinstated into the civil service, and promoted.
The story sparked outrage amongst Nigerians and the civil society who viewed the case as a litmus test for the corruption effort of the Buhari administration.
On Monday, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered immediate disengagement of Mr. Maina and demanded a report of the circumstances leading to his reinstatement from the Head of Service of the Federation. The presidency said the report has been turned in.
SSS, Police involvement
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that all the while, Mr. Maina was being provided guards by the SSS. A safe house in Maitama, allegedly belonging to the SSS, was also provided for his use.
The SSS does not have a known spokesperson to respond to this story.
PREMIUM TIMES telephoned the director general of the SSS, Lawal Daura, and a director in the service, identified as Mr. Bassey, but both officials did not respond to multiple calls.
The paper also found out that Mr. Maina’s controversial $2 million house in Jabi, Abuja, was guarded by the police.
A PREMIUM TIMES reporter who saw an armed police guard at the property on Monday, confirmed that the operative was posted there from the Maitama police division.
The FCT Police spokesperson, Anjuguri Manzah, said he was not aware of the posting. He promised to find out and get back to the newspaper. He is yet to do so as at the time of publishing this report.
Meanwhile, PREMIUM TIMES has obtained more details about how Mr. Maina purchased the Jabi property.
As exclusively reported by the newspaper two years ago, Mr. Maina used bankers and other intermediaries to launder most of the money he allegedly embezzled from the pension funds in his care.
The process of purchasing the Jabi home, located at No. 10 Hamisu Musa Road, Jabi, followed a similar pattern.
Investigators familiar with the deal told PREMIUM TIMES that Mr. Maina, who paid for the house in cash, made a mouth-watering offer to the first owner, identified as Adamu Modibbo, a former managing director of Sigma Pension.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the property was not in the market so Mr. Maina, acting through a middleman, approached Mr. Modibbo with an enticing offer.
Mr. Modibbo initially resisted the proposal to sell the house, where he was living with his family, but was given what an official called an “irresistible offer”.
Officials said both the buyer and the seller contravened provisions of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act by transacting in cash, given the amount involved.
Investigators, who traced the land documents at the Abuja Geographic Information System found that the new title documents were collected by an official of Guarantee Trust Bank.
Investigators later found that the man had since resigned his post from the bank and disappeared.
Contacted for comments, Mr. Modibbo declined comment, saying he would rather “allow EFCC to get to the root of the matter”.
EFCC continues search
Mr. Maina’s whereabouts remained unknown by Tuesday evening.
A senior official at the EFCC however told PREMIUM TIMES that the commission had searched Mr. Maina’s family house in Kaduna following a tip off that he was in the city to see his mother over the weekend. The search was fruitless.
Officials also said Mr. Maina has been unreachable even to close associates in the last two days.
The EFCC kaduna zonal office today, October 24, 2017, sealed six properties allegedly bought with proceeds of crime traced to Abdulrasheed Maina.
The properties include a 2 storey building in the commercial centre of Ibrahim Taiwo road, a residential bungalow located on Katuru road off Wurno road, and 4 seperate bungalows located on Kano road, Kawo new extension Kaduna.
The wanted former chairman of the Presidential Task Team on Pension Reforms had been secretly recalled to service and promoted to head a directorate in the Interior ministry before President Buhari ordered his sack yesterday.
Mr. Maina was sacked from the civil service in 2013 and was in 2015 placed on the wanted list of International Police (INTERPOL) by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
In 2012, Mr. Maina was accused of leading a massive pension fraud scheme amounting to more than N100 billion.
Mr. Maina was drafted by the Goodluck Jonathan administration in 2010 to sanitize a corrupt pension system.